Preston North End left-back Josh Earl glad to be back home at Deepdale after a season away on loan
Josh Earl’s appearance in the Preston North End side against Mansfield Town was a significant one for the left-back in that it marked his official return to the Deepdale fold.
There had been 16 months between last week’s Carabao Cup clash and his previous competitive appearance in a Lilywhite shirt.
Loans spells at Bolton and Ipswich filled his time last season and now Earl is back with North End pushing for a first-team place.
He will be in action either today at Sheffield United or tomorrow against Everton as Alex Neil sends his squad into a double header against Premier League opposition.
Then will come the fine tuning on the training pitch next week ahead of the Championship opener with Swansea at Deepdale.
Earl told the Lancashire Post: “It’s nice to be back in the squad here.
“Last week it was great to play at Deepdale again because it was a long time since I’d done that.
“I’m really enjoying being with the lads, the training is good and I feel I’ve done all right in the games so far.
“We’ve got two good games coming up against Premier League sides – whichever one you play in will be a big test.”
It is three years since Earl broke into the PNE first team, Neil handing him in debut in August 2017.
He was a teenager then and has gone on to play 37 times for North End, with a further 18 appearances at Bolton and Ipswich.
“I feel the time has gone quite quickly since I made my debut,” said Earl.
“The season I broke into the team and the following season, I played a similar amount of games.
“I had the two loans last season which benefited me, even if I did get some injuries.
“The loans gave me experience of different things.
“At Bolton it was all about fighting to stay up, while at Ipswich it was fighting to try and go up.”
The 21-year-old took some hard knocks in both loans, in particular a nasty ankle injury picked up on his Bolton debut.
He played some of the games at Ipswich wearing a protective mask to cover a facial injury.
Said Earl: “I think I was a bit unlucky with the injuries.
“They were contact injuries which you can’t avoid in competitive football.
“I don’t think I’ve had a muscular injury in football, if I’ve been out it’s been because of a contact injury.”