Preston North End skipper can use Republic of Ireland goal as a boost for his Championship form

Preston North End will be looking for Alan Browne to use the international break as a springboard for some strong displays in the Championship’s final run in.

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 28th March 2022, 12:30 pm

The skipper’s form took a dip in recent games, with Browne very critical of his own performance in the 4-0 defeat at Luton – North End’s last slice of action nearly a fortnight ago.

On Saturday night he came off the Republic of Ireland’s bench to score the equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Belgium at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

A start could now come his way when Stephen Kenny’s side host Lithuania on Tuesday night in a friendly.

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North End resume action against Derby County on Saturday before the big clash with Blackpool at Deepdale starts a run of three home games on the bounce.

While realistically their play-off chances are thin to say the least, PNE boss Ryan Lowe will be looking for a strong finish to the season from his side as thoughts turn to the 2022/23 campaign.

Lowe has used Browne extensively in his midfield trio since taking the North End job in December.

The only league game he didn’t start the 26-year-old in was the 0-0 draw at Millwall on February 1, giving him a breather ahead of the trip to Hull which followed.

Preston North End skipper Alan Browne celebrates scoring for the Republic of Ireland against Belgium at Dublin's Aviva Stadium. Pic: Getty Images

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Browne and Daniel Johnson have been Lowe’s first choices in the ‘eight’ roles, with Ben Whiteman starting a little deeper.

Ali McCann will be keen to lay claim to one of those roles in the last stretch of the campaign, with Lowe likely to be tempted to look at different pairings in the side when the top six does become mathematically out of reach.

The games coming up are big ones, North End needing a result at Derby to bounce back from the Luton defeat.

Browne was on target with a 97th minute winner in the last visit to Pride Park on Boxing Day 2020.

The Blackpool clash is naturally a huge one, PNE needing to make amends after that tame show at Bloomfield Road in the reverse fixture in October.

That was a game Browne didn’t complete, with him sent-off in stoppage-time for a second booking.

Then come QPR and Millwall at home, before a trip to Fulham on the Tuesday after Easter.