Tom Barkhuizen has been going long for Preston North End's Championship cause
Tom Barkhuizen has been launching attacks with his arms as much as his feet in Preston North End’s fight to ensure Championship status.
His long throw has been commandeered to increase PNE’s attacking threat, it now a common sight to see the 27-year-old coming to the touchline to hurl the ball towards the opposition box.
It’s not quite in the style of yesteryear Stoke or Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang but nevertheless it is a useful weapon to have.
Barkhuizen told the Lancashire Post: “It’s not something we’ve used a great deal before and I couldn’t really do it when I had the cast on my arm after breaking my wrist.
“When you are in a dogfight you want to get the ball into the box as often as possible.
“I talked to Frankie McAvoy about it before his first match and said there was not much use having three massive centre-halves in the opposition box if we aren’t going to use them to our advantage.
“I know we haven’t scored directly from one but the more chances you can have in and around the box, the more carnage you can cause, it applies pressure and puts teams on the back foot.
“It is not a bad thing to have in your armoury and it’s another way to try and score a goal.
“We know when playing against teams who have someone who takes a long throw, how much trouble they can cause.
“I think the problem is sometimes long throws get associated with a certain brand of football.
“I’m not being funny but who cares? When we are trying to pick up as many points as we can in as little a time as possible, you want the ball in the box. To be able to throw it in from 30 yards away is great to do.
“It led to the winner in the Swansea game if you remember. It was about putting the ball in the mixer and working from there.
“Fair play to Frankie that day for sending the big men up front in the 91st minute for it. A lot of teams would have settled for a point at that stage but we took a chance and that paid off.
“Once or twice in past seasons we used the long throw but only in the last five minutes if we needed to score a goal.”
Barkhuizen’s throw will next be in use when North End head down the M6 to take on Coventry City on Saturday (3pm).
The game is being played at Birmingham’s St Andrew’s ground, the Sky Blues having lodged there for the last two seasons after a dispute with their Ricoh Arena landlords.
PNE have already won at that venue this season, beating Birmingham 1-0 in January with a goal from Scott Sinclair.
Barkhuizen and his team-mates go to the Midlands with safety all but assured.
Tuesday night’s 3-0 win against Derby took them on to 52 points which should be enough.
North End do not intend taking the foot off the gas, with a strong finish to the season their aim.
For Barkhuizen, his versatility has come into play since McAvoy took the interim head coach role.
He has played centre midfield, left wing-back, left-back, right wing-back and striker in the five games McAvoy has been at the helm.
“Versatility isn’t necessarily a bad thing for me,” said Barkhuizen.
“Frankie pulled me for a chat the day after he got the job. We’d had a few words after the Luton game – nothing bad – but we had spoken a little bit.
“He just said that I was one of the players he could trust to do a job because I’d been here a long time and worked with him, he knew what he was going to get from me.
“I think I’ve started in four different positions in the five games and played five or six positions in the end.
“As long as I’m playing I don’t care where I play, I understand what Frankie wants from us.
“It is up to me to give it my best shot in whatever position I play.
“Against Derby I played as a striker and enjoyed it.
“Frankie wanted me to stretch the game and I had a good understanding with Ched Evans up there.”
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