Ryan Lowe already has one eye on the future of Preston North End

Ryan Lowe is planning to make a ‘getting to know you’ visit to Preston North End’s academy next week which he sees as a big part of the club’s future.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 12th February 2022, 8:00 am

A clear midweek will give Lowe an opportunity to have a look at the layers below the first-team set-up.

The PNE manager plans to watch the reserves in action at Bolton on Tuesday afternoon and then visit the academy in the evening.

Lowe told the Lancashire Post: “I speak to Nick Harrison (academy manager) a lot and I want to get down to meet as many of the coaches as possible.

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Ryan Lowe will run the rule over the club’s younger players next week

“I think next Tuesday after the Central League game I will go to the academy and spend the evening there, get to see all the kids from the age of six upwards.

“We need to make sure we take a big interest in them. I want to bring all that together, I don’t know what it has been like over the years in terms of togetherness.

“We are all as one and we have to take a look at all the kids in the academy because there are hopefully going to be some superstars in there.”

The pathway between the academy and first team has got a little clearer of late after something of a bottleneck in recent years.

PNE’s current Under-19s’ set-up has a handful of lads already with professional contracts.

One of the second-year scholars hoping to land a pro deal, Mikey O’Neill, got a taste of first-team duty this week.

A regular scorer in the youth team, O’Neill got the call to train with Lowe’s squad at Euxton on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the 17-year-old was included in the squad for the build-up to the game with Huddersfield.

O’Neill took part in the warm-up, having been given the No.39 squad number. He didn’t make the bench in the end but Lowe had given it some consideration.

Said Lowe: “The lad took to first-team training like a duck to water.

“The first thing Mike Marsh said to him was show me the two penalties you scored in the last youth game.

“He had to fetch the ball and put it into the net where he had done it the other day.

“Any striker scoring goals at any level is worth watching, especially when he’s ours.

“Mikey did some finishing work with Cameron Archer on Tuesday and was asking all the right questions.

“We will keep an eye on him and monitor him. Being with senior Championship players didn’t faze him.

“I don’t know if we’ll take him to Peterborough. We don’t want him to miss games for the youth team when he’s on a scoring run.

“He’ll probably feature in the reserves against Bolton and train with us here when he’s called upon.”