Preston North End youngster Jack Baxter on FA Youth Cup duty following first-team squad chance

PNE youngster Jack Baxter during the warm-up at Birmingham
PNE youngster Jack Baxter during the warm-up at Birmingham

Preston North End’s visit to Birmingham City ended on a disappointing note but it was a big afternoon for Jack Baxter.

The 18-year-old midfielder was named on PNE’s bench for the first time at St Andrew’s.

He was promoted from the academy to cover the loss of a number of first-team players to injury.

Chorley-born Baxter has been with North End’s academy since the Under-9s.

Since last season he has regularly trained with the first-team squad.

A couple of times he was in the travelling party for away games but did not make the matchday squad.

Preston youth team midfielder Adam O'Reilly

Preston youth team midfielder Adam O'Reilly

Baxter is the second youth team player to make the bench this season.

Fellow midfielder Adam O’Reilly did so for the League Cup victory over Morecambe in August.

O’Reilly was also a sub in last season’s 1-1 draw against Wolves at Deepdale.

Commenting on Baxter’s inclusion on the bench at the weekend, North End boss Alex Neil said: “We are stretched to the limit at the moment.

PNE youth team winger Ethan Walker

PNE youth team winger Ethan Walker

“We had young Jack Baxter on the bench as an option for the midfield.

“Calum Woods was on the bench even though he hasn’t had any minutes since coming back from injury.”

Baxter will be in action for PNE’s Under-18s on Tuesday night when they face Charlton Athletic in the FA Youth Cup third round at Deepdale (7pm).

For Preston’s current crop of youngsters, this is their first experience of treading the Deepdale turf.

Last year, they bowed out of the competition at the third-round stage away to Spurs so did not get the chance to play at home.

Among those set to play along with Baxter and O’Reilly are Jack Armer, Lewi Earl, Tyrhys Dolan, Ethan Walker and Jerome Jolly.

Earl is the younger brother of North End’s Josh Earl.

Preston-born defender Armer has played for Scotland at Under-16s, 17s and 18s level.

Walker, a former pupil at Broughton High, almost made the first-team bench against Hull in October.

The winger made the dash from Preston to Hull on the day of the game to cover for injury and illness.

In the end Walker was not needed for the bench but did get to do the warm-up.

Season ticket holders at PNE and Charlton get in free for the tie on production of a valid season card at the turnstile.

Admission is £4 for adults and £2 concessions, Under-11s are free accompanied by an adult.