Preston North End pair Patrick Bauer and Ben Davies have caught Alan Kelly’s eye

Patrick Bauer and Ben Davies have given Preston North End a strong platform from which to push for the play-offs.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 6:00 am

That is the view of former Lilywhites shot-stopper and goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly who keeps a keen watch on a club which has such strong links with his family.

Bauer and Davies came together as a partnership at the start of the season, Bauer having arrived on a Bosman from Charlton Athletic.

Ankle injuries have kept Davies sidelined for a couple of spells but in the main it has been the right foot/left foot pair together.

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Preston North End central defender Patrick Bauer

Kelly told the Lancashire Post: “Ben Davies and Patrick Bauer have been important this season, both are very good players.

“Those two together have been the foundation on which the team has been built. They are strong at the back and I’ve liked what I have seen of them.

“Ben has been at the club for a long time and worked his way up, with Bauer proving to be a very good signing.”

Other players in the squad have caught Kelly’s eye.

In particular he talks about Daniel Johnson, Ben Pearson and Declan Rudd.

Kelly, who is now keeper coach at Everton, said: “We have all seen DJ scoring goals this season and he’s chipped in with assists too.

“He’s been a key figure in the team and will have a big part to play when the games get going again.

“Declan Rudd after a few issues earlier on has had a very good season and that is good to see.

“In midfield, Ben Pearson has played very well throughout the season. His improved disciplinary record has led to him being on the pitch more.

“You look at the spine of the team, Rudd, Bauer, Davies, Pearson. That is important.”

It is anyone’s guess when English football will return after the current shutdown.

When it does, though, Kelly sees the battle for promotion from the Championship being an enthralling one.

Kelly, 51, said: “It really is an unbelievable division.

“It’s unpredictable and clubs find it difficult to put long runs of good results together.

“Bristol City, who are just behind North End, had not been able to win games in the weeks before the season stopped.

“At the other end of the table, teams were suddenly starting to find their form.

“Wigan have had a spurt after they’d looked to be in trouble.

“In the Championship it is very much about how you are on the day.

“Even if you are up there at the top, if you’re not quite at it on the day and don’t do enough, the opposition are quite capable of taking advantage – it doesn’t matter where in the table they are.”

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