Preston North End midfielder Ali McCann is adapting to being played as a wing-back

Ali McCann says he is getting the hang of playing as a wing-back in the Preston North End side.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 8:00 am

The Northern Ireland international started last Saturday’s 2-1 win over QPR at right wing-back and finished the derby victory against Blackpool in the left wing-back position.

Appearances in his favoured midfield positions have been few and far between of late but the games in the run-up to the end of the season could provide an opportunity.

However, if chances keep coming as a wing-back, he’ll gladly take those.

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Preston North End's Ali McCann

McCann said: “It’s different playing there because it’s not my position. The more I play, the more comfortable I feel, whether that’s right or left.

"That’s football and I’ll do whatever I can to help us win more matches.

"It’s a case of doing the best I can for the team and I’m happy putting in a shift.

"What’s important is that I don’t find myself over-concentrating on the opposition when playing at wing-back so that I get caught out.”

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McCann, 22, says there are some midfield traits that he can take to the wing-back role.

It was as a midfielder that he made his way in the game at St Johnstone, his performances in the Scottish Premiership helping him secure a £1.2m move to North End last August.

"At wing-back you are still a midfielder in a way because you are in that same line,” said McCann.

"In the second half against QPR I found myself drifting inside a bit more and Alan Browne would move out to cover me – we’d rotate.

"One of the differences is that at wing-back you are predominantly one versus one, it’s a case of sticking to your man and trying to get the better of him.”

The clock is ticking on this season with North End having only five matches left. It’s Millwall next at Deepdale on Good Friday, then Ryan Lowe’s men go to Championship leaders Fulham next Tuesday.

After two victories on the bounce, pushing on and having a strong finish is the target in the PNE dressing room.

McCann said: “We want to rack-up as many points as we can. We’ve got three home games left and if we can be strong at Deepdale and make it a tough place to play, we can finish well.”