Vermijl’s on front foot for PNE

Scorer Marnick Vermijl, left, is congratulated Bailey Wright
Scorer Marnick Vermijl, left, is congratulated Bailey Wright
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Marnick Vermijl is hoping his first competitive goal in English football will be the first of many for Preston North End.

The Belgian loan star hit the only goal of the game on Tuesday night as North End knocked Premier League Watford out of the Capital One Cup at Deepdale.

Vermijl’s decisive strike in the eighth minute means PNE will now face another top-flight outfit in the shape of Bournemouth, at home, in the third round next month.

Although he has been on target for NEC Nijmegen after a past spell in the Dutch league, Vermijl has had to wait until this week to open his account on these shores.

Usually a full-back, the 23-year-old’s goal was vindication of manager Simon Grayson’s decision to utilise him in a more attacking role against the Hornets.

Vermijl started on the right-hand side of a front three, which included Kyel Reid and Joe Garner.

And there could be more goals to come from him if he is handed a similar role in the weeks to come.

“It is always nice to score a goal – my first for Preston, but the most important thing was the good performance and getting in the draw for the next round.

“Playing wide on the right is not my favourite position, but if I can do a job for the team, I am happy to do that.

“It is just a bit different because when you’re in a full-back position you can attack from deeper, so it’s not as obvious for the opposition.

“When you’re further forward, you are standing there – it’s a bit different, but it’s something I need to get used to a 
little bit.”

Having not found the back of the net in English football previously, Vermijl admits he was surprised to find himself with so much time and space in the Watford penalty area before smashing the ball past the keeper.

The ball arrived at his feet rather fortuitously after Josh Brownhill’s miscued his attempted shot from outside the penalty area.

“It does not matter how the ball got through to me,” he said.

“I had to react as quickly as possible and slide it under the goalkeeper. I was a bit surprised with the amount of space that I had, but I was just happy to score.”

After joining the club on loan from Sheffield Wednesday on the eve of the new season, Vermijl was thrown straight into the starting XI for the opening Championship fixture against Middlesbrough.

However, a knock picked up against the Teessiders kept him out of the next two games and he has been on the bench for the league games against Rotherham United and Ipswich Town.

”It was frustrating to pick up the injury after the first game,” he said.

“But it’s a long season and we didn’t want to take a risk with the injury. I think it was the right decision to wait until I was 100%.”

Now that he is back to full fitness, Vermijl is hoping to have caused his manager a selection headache as attention turns to Saturday’s league clash against Hull City at the KC Stadium.

He said: “That is what the manager wants – players to come in and do well.

“We need to keep each other sharp and it’s a positive thing for the manager.

“As players, you need to make sure that the manager has a tough decision to make.

“We won on Tuesday and hopefully we can do the same on Saturday.”