Preston North End's midfield changes after a prolonged run of stability

Frankie McAvoy gave Preston North End’s midfield a tweak for the Queens Park Rangers game and ended up having to change it a second time.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 12:30 pm

The engine room has been a picture of consistency in terms of selection over the last six weeks or so.

Until Saturday’s visit to the capital, Ryan Ledson, Ben Whiteman and Daniel Johnson had been the midfield three for all league games since the third week of August.

They came together as a trio for the 1-0 victory against Peterborough.

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Preston North End midfielder Alan Browne in action against Queens Park Rangers

For seven Championship matches that combination was picked to start until the QPR game.

Ali McCann came into the starting XI at the expense of Whiteman who dropped down the bench.

Whiteman had scored in last Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Stoke – his third goal in successive home league matches.

Post-match, PNE head coach McAvoy explained that was down to a need for fresh legs, with McCann having impressed when coming on as substitute and in his start against Cheltenham Town in the Carabao Cup.

PNE midfielder Ali McCann is substituted at QPR after sustaining an ankle injury

McCann’s first league start in English football was to last only 25 minutes, a block tackle with QPR striker Andre Gray leaving him with an ankle injury.

McAvoy was to summon Alan Browne from the bench as McCann’s replacement rather than put Whiteman back into the fray.

Game time has been rather limited for Browne this season, injury, a drop in form and the need to self-isolate when deemed a close contact of someone with Covid in August, making it a bumpy road for him of late.

Although Browne was involved in the poor defending for QPR’s winner, his display overall was one McAvoy was pleased with.

McAvoy said: “I felt you could see that he was desperate to drive us on.

“Alan is a great player and a great servant to Preston North End.

“It’s good to get him back, he’s ready now, you could see that at QPR.”

Browne will stay at Euxton during the international break, as he is not in the Republic of Ireland squad.

Suspension has ruled him out of the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan this weekend – he was booked twice in the last international break.

Browne’s appearance from the bench was his 298th game in a North End shirt.

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