Ryan Lowe committed to giving Preston North End youngsters an opportunity in the first team

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Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe is keen to keep handing out opportunities to the club’s young players.

Lowe gave five players their debut this season, with one other getting his first career start for the Lilywhites. Jacob Slater and Lewis Leigh made their senior bows early on in the campaign, in the Carabao Cup, and both made Championship appearances before the end of the season. Noah Mawene, Finlay Cross-Adair and Kaedyn Kamara were also given first team debuts, the former two in the league and the latter in the FA Cup. Mikey O’Neill’s start in the FA Cup second round win over Huddersfield Town was his first for the club after cameos last season, before moving on to Grimsby Town on loan in League Two where he played 11 times.

It’s a steep increase in opportunities, with first team debuts prior relatively hard to come by, particularly without a considerable injury crisis, over recent years.

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Lowe remains committed to letting the young players show what they can do but insists maintaining the standards of a first team player is their toughest task.

Young Preston North End players celebrate their side's win over Blackburn RoversYoung Preston North End players celebrate their side's win over Blackburn Rovers
Young Preston North End players celebrate their side's win over Blackburn Rovers

He said: “That's what I want. That's what I do as a manager, I give them their debuts. It's not just get them in, they have to warrant it first, they have to deserve it, and that's certainly what all the players have done. Lewis Leigh coming on the pitch against Sheffield United, I know it was a bitter-sweet moment for him but he's earned it.

"He's been fantastic in training, Jacob has been with us all season and he's warranted being on the bench sometimes. All of the new kids now who are going to get extended scholars, it's up to them to perform now.

"I've said it's the easy part getting a contract, the hardest part is sustaining it and staying.

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"One or two will fall away by the wayside and will have to drop down because they haven't taken that chance but there's enough, for me, that you can see the progression through the youth system and the academy that hopefully one day we can have our own Tom Cannon or Alvaro Fernandez. That's certainly got to be the aim.”

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