Preston North End midfielder Tom Bayliss can play his way into contention

Preston North End midfielder Tom Bayliss will be hoping the end of this season is a catalyst for more involvement in the first team in 2020/21.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 8:00 am

Patience was a virtue for the 21-year-old following last summe’sr big-money move from Coventry City.

His Championship debut only came in the final game of the campaign against Bristol City last week.

That was a 15-minute run as a substitute in which he got some time on the ball and showed a few nice touches.

Tom Bayliss on his Championship debut against Bristol City

Prior to that, Bayliss had featured just four times in cup games – three starts and a substitute appearance.

Although signed as one for the future, he would have wanted more game time.

Admittedly, injury did get in the way in the second half of the campaign.

Bayliss damaged his ankle in a bounce game in January and had surgery to stabilise the ligaments.

It was only after lockdown that he returned to training, the season’s extension giving him some involvement in and around the first team.

North End manager Alex Neil said: “I thought Tom did well at Bristol City, he split the line a few times with his passes.

“I’m pleased for him that he got on, he’s had to be patient and it’s been tough for him.

“He has been very professional which is great and I’m very hopeful that next year we will see a lot more of him.

“His biggest strength for me is playing it in and running beyond. He’s very good at linking with someone and driving beyond the midfield and towards the opposition centre-backs.

“It will be really interesting to see how he develops over the next 12 months.”

What will encourage Bayliss is how other players emerged from the PNE squad to play a part towards the end of the season.

Jordan Storey, Brad Potts and Ryan Ledson all got more of a chance in a busy schedule.

Centre-half Storey had not featured from January through to the 3-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the month.

Ledson got involved from the Huddersfield game onwards, with Potts featuring in all the matches after lockdown in some capacity.

Having the full pre-season this time could help Bayliss, having arrived on the eve of the season 12 months ago.

North End report back for work on August 13 and have four weeks to get themselves ready for the September 12 start to the Championship campaign.

The pre-season will feature a handful of friendly games to boost match fitness.

There will not be a training camp in Ireland this year due to the shorter-than-usual build-up.