Preston North End starlet Jack Baxter targeting more appearances in the first-team squad

Preston North End's Jack Baxter
Preston North End's Jack Baxter

Preston North End youngster Jack Baxter hopes to get more experience with the first-team squad after being on the bench for the Birmingham game.

The 18-year-old midfielder was given a substitute’s role at St Andrew’s after impressing PNE boss Alex Neil over the last few months.

While he didn’t make it on to the pitch in the 3-0 defeat, it was still a big moment for Chorley-born Baxter.

In a busy few days, Baxter then played in PNE Under-18s victory over Charlton in the FA Youth Cup at Deepdale on Tuesday night.

To say it was an eventful game for him, would be an understatement.

Baxter gave North End an early lead from the penalty spot but then missed another penalty late in the first half.

When the third round tie went to penalties after a 2-2 draw, Baxter missed from the spot in the shoot-out.

However, team-mates Jack Armer, Adam O’Reilly and Ethan Walker scored to send PNE through 3-1 on penalties.

Reflecting on making the bench last week, Baxter told the Post: “ It was a really good experience.

“Being involved in that game probably helped with the nerves for the youth cup, it helped me settle down.

“I’d been in and around a few of the squads but this was the first time on the bench.

“Obviously it was not the result we wanted last week but I can learn from it.

“Hopefully I can push on from here and be involved in the squad again.

“I’ve trained quite a lot with the first-team squad and that is so different to training with the youth team.

“It’s a different style of play and is physically demanding coming-up against players who are in tip-top shape and at the top of their game.

“The manager Alex Neil has given a lot of youth-team lads the chance to train with the first-team.

“There have been bounce games to play in which really helps your development.”

Tuesday’s FA Youth Cup tie gave Baxter his first chance to play at Deepdale.

A place in the fourth round was a hard-earned one for the PNE youngsters.

Baxter, a former pupil at Balshaw’s CofE High School in Leyland, said: “The game had a bit of everything.

“There were four penalties given in the game, extra-time and it went to a shoot-out.

“The lads certainly felt it in their legs, there was a lot of cramp – that was probably due to the game starting at 100mph and it being played on a massive pitch.

“It was the first time I had played two hours of football like that.

“In the shoot-out, Jimmy Corcoran made two excellent saves and the three lads who scored their penalties were excellent too.”