Preston North End loan youngsters Adam O’Reilly and Jack Baxter in head-to-head battle

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Two Preston North End youngsters found themselves in opposition as part of their development away from Deepdale.

Adam O’Reilly and Jack Baxter are two of the players who are out on loan in order to get senior football.

Midfielder O’Reilly joined Stalybridge Celtic last Friday until January 1.

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His first game back there, having had a loan spell before the pandemic, came on Saturday at Radcliffe – the club where Baxter is on loan.

Preston North End midfielder Jack Baxter is on loan with RadcliffePreston North End midfielder Jack Baxter is on loan with Radcliffe
Preston North End midfielder Jack Baxter is on loan with Radcliffe

It was Baxter who came out on top, Radcliffe winning the NPL Premier League clash 2-1.

North End head coach Frankie McAvoy said: “Jack ended up playing against Adam and they had a good set-to against one another.

“Jack’s team came out on top and it’s great for them to go and play.”

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O’Reilly, 20, has headed out to Stalybridge having been on the first-team bench just once this season, against Cheltenham in the Carabao Cup in September.

He had returned in July from a loan spell with League of Ireland side Waterford but suffered a toe injury which kept him out for a spell.

Stalybridge are delighted to have him back, their boss Simon Haworth of the view that the Irish lad is ‘leagues above’ their division.

Haworth said: “Someone said to me why have we brought Adam in and that we need a nine.

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“Adam is a different class and if you get the chance to bring in a player that is better than the level – he’s probably leagues above this level – you don’t turn that down.”

North End also have Ethan Walker, Joe Rodwell-Grant and Lewis Coulton on loan at non-league clubs.

Walker returned to AFC Fylde last week, that deal running until January 1. It is the winger’s second loan stint at Mill Farm, with him having suffered a thigh injury in the first spell.

Having regained his fitness at PNE and featured in a reserve game last week, Walker is back with Jim Bentley’s side who are top of the National League North.

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First-year professionals Rodwell-Grant and Coulton are at Bamber Bridge, with Rodwell-Grant scoring his first Brig goal in their 4-1 win at Witton Albion last Saturday.

It was left-back Coulton who set him up with a cross.

McAvoy said: “We’ve got the lads loans to get them more game time.

“Hopefully when they come back here they are ready to try and push to get in the first-team squad.

“At the moment they have guys ahead of them. In Adam’s case for example, the midfield is a strong area.”

PNE do have the Central League to provide game time but there are only two fixtures between now and Christmas.