Preston North End boss wants Daniel Johnson to keep making an impact

Preston manager Alex Neil wants to see a repeat show of Daniel Johnson’s second-half display against Aston Villa on a regular basis.

The midfielder helped flip the game on its head when he was introduced from the bench at half-time with PNE trailing 2-0.

Daniel Johnson celebrates scoring Preston's first goal at Aston Villa

Daniel Johnson celebrates scoring Preston's first goal at Aston Villa

DJ halved the arrears from the penalty spot but it was his drive from midfield which got the visitors on the front foot.

Neil said: “The only issue DJ has got is consistency.

“He has got the legs, he has got quality and can get about the play.

“Okay, he’s never going to be the toughest tackler but he’s an excellent player.

“He displayed those traits at Aston Villa and against Sheffield United.

“When DJ came on he took really responsibility on the ball. That allowed the other guys to get into the game, that was so important.”

Johnson came on in place of Ryan Ledson to add more experience to the midfield.

He was behind a good spell of possession at the start of the second half, one which started to get PNE a foothold in a game which seemed beyond them before the break.

Said Neil: “In the first half we had really struggled to pick the kind of passes that DJ did in the second half.

“He was a real man when he came on and it changed the games for us.”

Johnson’s penalty was his fourth of the season in league and cup, with him joint top scorer with Callum Robinson.

Both he and Robinson got to face their old club, having been with Villa for a number of years as youngsters.

Johnson did almost blot his copybook though, his tangle with Birkir Bjarnason giving away the penalty which 
Chris Maxwell saved at the death.

This term, the 25-year-old has started four games in all competitions, with Tuesday night’s appearance his fourth off the bench.

In August, he signed a two-year contract extension having entered the final 12 months of his previous deal.

Johnson will hope to have played his way into contention to start Saturday’s Deepdale clash with Wigan Athletic.

Neil knows the importance of the game as North End look to build on the point they got in the Midlands.

“Wigan will be a massive game for us,” said Neil.

“They are a local rival which adds a bit of spice.

“It is the last game before the break so we have a long time to think afterwards.

“Hopefully we can produce the type of performance we did in the second half at Villa for the whole game against Wigan.

“We can draw plenty from what did on Tuesday night and use that to take us forward.

“There are things to learn from and positives to take.”