Preston North End pair caught Ryan Lowe's eye in the run-up to the end of the season

Ryan Lowe enjoyed how Ali McCann and Daniel Johnson linked-up in Preston North End’s last couple of games of the campaign and wants to see such interchange in other areas of the pitch next season.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 8:00 am

Against Middlesbrough on the final day and the week before at Barnsley, Johnson played out of position at left wing-back with McCann on that side of the midfield.

They swapped into one another’s positions for spells, covering when the other made a forward run.

Two victories and seven goals scored made it a pleasing finish to the season, sending North End manager Lowe into the summer break with a spring in his step.

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Lowe said: “I had half contemplated taking DJ out of the left wing-back position for the Middlesbrough game because it’s not his natural position.

"But he was fine playing there and I left it as it was.

"I thought him and Ali did a fantastic job on Isaiah Jones who is a fantastic player, he’s Middlesbrough’s go-to.

"In the second half we swapped them, put Ali out there and moved DJ into the middle of the park because we didn’t need to go forward quite as much down that side.

"Then Ali got booked within a couple of minutes of moving to wing-back so we had to change it back round again and put him back in midfield.

"That is what we need, some adaptability all over the pitch. It’s really important we have that in the midfield eight positions.”

Lowe struggled to fit McCann, Johnson and Alan Browne into the starting XI together, Johnson and Browne his favoured attacking midfield partnership.

McCann had games at wing-back but it was Johnson’s move wide at Barnsley which opened the door for McCann to play in midfield.

A left wing-back is on Lowe’s wanted list over the summer, possibly two, but having players who can move into different positions like Johnson and McCann have done, is a bonus.

Lowe says PNE’s squad will have a much different look ahead of next season, with plenty of recruitment work to be done in the summer.

He’s released 13 first-team squad players and transfer listed three more to free-up squad places and lighten the wage bill.