Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson deserves his Jamaica call-up says Alex Neil
Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson is set to make a long-delayed international bow for Jamaica next month.
Johnson has been named in the Reggae Boyz squad for two friendlies against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on November 14 and 17.
For him to have got to the age of 28, played Championship football since 2015, yet not been recognised at international level, is quite a surprise.
Although he has been on Jamaica’s radar for a while, the standard of travel for him to get to international duty has been an issue.
North End manager Alex Neil said: “This is something which has been ongoing for the last couple of years.
“The difficulty we have had is that if they want to take DJ over to Jamaica, he has to go on the best mode of transport because it is such a long distance. We need to get him there, get him playing and get him back as quickly as possible.
“The last few times we have had a bit if a dispute on that by the fact they were going to fling him on three flights to get him to Jamaica.
“To be fair to DJ, he said that didn’t suit him because he is going to be very tired, it takes a long time to get there and he wants to be ready for us when he gets back.
“It looks like the situation has resolved itself now.”
Although Saudi Arabia is hardly on the doorstep, flying there and back directly will be a bit less tiring.
Johnson has three more North End games to focus on before international duty.
They face Birmingham at Deepdale today (3pm), before going to Reading on Wednesday evening and Rotherham next Saturday.
Neil is delighted to have had Johnson back in the fold for the last three games. He missed the opening day of the season after being linked with a move to Rangers and once that blew over, a groin injury suffered in training sidelined him.
Said Neil: “DJ is a quality player, he was our player of the year last season.
“If you look at the Millwall game in midweek, the one moment of quality from us was DJ’s pass to pick out the run of Tom Barkhuizen.
“Strangely, that came from a deep position. As we hadn’t been able to get him playing in pockets of space further forward, we dropped him on the other side of the midfield to get him on the ball.
“Even from that deeper position, he produced a moment of quality.”
On the fitness front, Neil is hoping that a stomach bug that hit half a dozen players earlier in the week has subsided.
He reported that Ben Davies (ankle), Ben Pearson (groin)and Darnell Fisher (hamstring) were ‘getting closer’ to a return to action.
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