Youngster to be given chance to make his Preston North End breakthrough

Preston North End are set to run the rule over Adam O’Reilly in pre-season to see how he has benefitted from a run of games in Irish football.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 8:00 am

The 20-year-old midfielder is currently on loan with Waterford in the League of Ireland Premier Division.

His loan runs until June when there is a mid-season break and it is then O’Reilly is set to return to train with Frankie McAvoy’s squad.

North End are considering whether to take a similar course of action with Jack Baxter who is on loan with Cork City.

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North End midfielder Adam O’Reilly pictured after coming on against Aston Villa in 2018

Baxter scored his first goal for Cork in their 1-1 draw with Galway United on Friday night, a sweetly-struck volley from outside the box.

Similarly with O’Reilly, his loan runs until next month and a decision will be taken nearer the time.

O’Reilly joined North End as a scholar after being signed from Ringmahon Rangers, the club where Alan Browne started out.

His one first-team appearance came as a substitute against Aston Villa in December 2018.

He has been an unused sub a number of times since then, and had been in the matchday squad for 11 games this season prior to going to Waterford in February.

It has not been the easiest of times at Waterford, with the Blues currently bottom of the Premier Division.

When there were positive Covid tests at the club, the whole of the first-team squad had to self isolate and the Under-19s turned out in their place, losing 7-0 to Drogheda.

The following game was forfeited, with Waterford unwilling to expose the Under-19s to another tough test.

Last Friday they were back in action against Derry City, which was O’Reilly’s ninth game of the loan spell.

He and Baxter have plenty of competition within the Lilywhites squad for a midfield place.

Browne, Ben Whiteman and player of the year Ryan Ledson was McAvoy’s go-to midfield in the latter stages of the season.

Daniel Johnson missed most of McAvoy’s interim spell with a calf injury, while Brad Potts and Tom Bayliss were in the mix too.

Jayson Molumby, who was on loan from Brighton, hardly got a look in.

On the final day of the campaign, Bayliss got a start at Nottingham Forest and scored his first PNE goal.

O’Reilly and Baxter were among a big group of players loaned out in the second half of the season.

Jayden Stockley, Josh Harrop, Josh Earl, Ethan Walker and David Nugent got temporary moves in January in a bid to get games – either as they were not in the plans, or in Walker and Earl’s cases, to gain experience.