Summer signing Josh makes his delayed North End debut

Josh Harrop
Josh Harrop

Alex Neil was pleased to see Josh Harrop back on the pitch and making his Preston debut in the draw with Newcastle United at Deepdale.

A calf strain had delayed the 21-year-old’s bow after his arrival from Manchester United last month.

He played half an hour as a substitute on Saturday, a game which finished in a 1-1 draw.

Tom Barkhuizen scored North End’s goal, equalising an early Aleksandar Mitrovic strike.

PNE manager Neil told the Post: “It was good to get Josh some game time.

“He did two or three days training last week to get him ready for it.

“You can see that Josh is a very gifted footballer.

“We just need to get him up to speed as quickly as possible and get him more minutes.”

Harrop was one of four summer buys, together with Declan Rudd, Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor.

Rudd has been restricted to a just a few minutes action by a thigh strain he suffered in the opening pre-season game at Bamber Bridge.

Maguire and O’Connor were joining the squad this morning after playing their last games for Cork City in the Europa Cup last Thursday.

While Harrop returned against Newcastle, there were a few absentees from the squad.

Stevie May sat the game out because of a slight injury, as did Paul Gallagher, Calum Woods and John Welsh.

Neil said: “It is not a bad one for Stevie, he’s just got a really tight quad and was not ready to go into the type of game we had against Newcastle.

“Gally’s hamstring injury is improving, Welshy is just holding on with his shoulder and is improving.

“The groin injury which Calum has is improving too.

“We’ve got these wee niggles and knocks which are not great but they aren’t serious.

“You tend to get them in pre-season because it takes a toll on the body.

“What we have done is work the lads very hard, we want to make sure they are in good shape.

“I thought our fitness levels were very good.”

Neil was pleased with the manner in which North End stepped-up to the challenge of facing Newcastle.

“It was a crucial part of our build-up,” said the Scotsman.

“The transition between what they had done in the past to what they are doing now, they had done extremely well.

“Before the game I did have my reservations about how they would step-up when Newcastle had the ball, how good our shape was going to be, how we would retain the ball against really physical players.

“I’ve got to say that they stood up to the test very well and I thought it was a great performance.”