Preston North End skipper gets an international boost with Republic of Ireland

Preston North End skipper Alan Browne will be hoping that a stint of international service can give his season a kick-start.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 4:56 pm

Browne played 58 minutes of the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Serbia in Dublin on Tuesday night, that following a brief run-out as a sub in last Saturday’s clash with Azerbaijan.

He was a late call-up to the Irish squad, having missed out on last week’s defeat to Portugal.

It has been a stop-start season for Browne so far.

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PNE skipper Alan Browne challenges Strahinja Pavlovic in the Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw with Serbia in Dublin

He had surgery in the summer to correct a hip problem which delayed him starting pre-season training.

Browne started PNE’s first three games but then had to isolate ahead of the win over Peterborough as he had been a close contact with someone with Covid.

He came out of isolation just before the Swansea game but did not feature in the squad for the 3-1 win.

That lack of action meant the 26-year-old was not in the initial Irish squad, before he won last week’s call-up.

Browne is in an area of the PNE squad where competition is strong.

It has been Ryan Ledson, Ben Whiteman and Daniel Johnson who have formed the midfield three for the last two Championship games.

It would be hard to see that changing for Saturday’s visit to Bristol City, the trip having performed very well against Swansea City.

The midfield ranks have further been strengthened by Ali McCann’s deadline-day signing from St Johnstone for £1.2m.

McCann was only due to meet his new team-mates on Thursday after being with the Northern Ireland squad.

Johnson was back in the country on Tuesday after playing for Jamaica at the weekend.

The other midfield options for PNE head coach Frankie McAvoy include Brad Potts – who scored in the reserves in midweek – Lewis Leigh and Jamie Thomas.

Adam O’Reilly is another to throw into the mix, the Irishman in the group of players aged under 21 who do not have to be registered in the squad with the EFL.

O’Reilly, 20, played at right wing-back in the reserves against Walsall before moving to a midfield role during the second half – setting-up Potts’ goal when he did.

He has been sidelined by a foot injury since the latter stages of pre-season, having returned from a loan spell in the League of Ireland with Waterford.

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