John Welsh is revelling in his ‘ratting’ role which is giving Preston North End’s flair players licence to shine higher up the pitch.
The 31-year-old Scouser has played a significant part in PNE’s red-hot form which has brought them 26 points from the last 28 on offer.
I enjoy doing the ratting in a game, the tackling and hard work close to the back four
It is the holding role in front of the back four which Welsh has played to good effect, giving the team an extra layer of defensive cover.
Welsh concentrating on that job allows attacking midfielders Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson their freedom to be the launchpad of North End’s creativity.
“I enjoy doing the ratting in a game, the tackling and hard work close to the back four,” Welsh told the Evening Post.
“That has always been a side of the game I’ve been involved in and it is great to be playing a part in this good run of form.
“Every credit to the lads at the back, they have been excellent in our recent run.
“We kept another clean sheet against Peterborough, which was all down to hard work.
“Peterborough chucked their big centre-back up front towards the end and I don’t think he won one header in that time which is testament to Paul Huntington and Bailey Wright in the middle.
“Tom Clarke is Tom Clarke – he always wins a header and is a great one-on-one defender. Scott Laird defends well and also gets forward well. He has been linking up brilliantly with Callum Robinson down that left-hand side.
“Behind us, Sam Johnstone has done well. He didn’t have much to do on Tuesday night and then had to pull off that save near the end.
“Going the other way, Daniel Johnson and Gally have both been excellent – they are difficult for the opposition to handle.
“The goal which Daniel got against Peterborough was superb. I was right behind him and as soon as he got the ball on his left foot I knew he was going to hit the target.
“You would have expected him to go with his laces with the shot but he showed real cleverness by bending it into the far corner.
“Daniel has been excellent since he came.
“The lad makes my job easier because I just give him the ball and let him play – it is the same with Gally. When you give them the freedom to play, let them loose, they will hurt any team.
“Sitting behind Daniel and Gally, they are a joy to watch.
“Hopefully they can continue with that form for the rest of the season.”
North End head to Barnsley on Saturday where they will be backed by a huge travelling support for Gentry Day.
Said Welsh: “I have been here for two of the Gentry Days and it is always a good occasion. The fans have turned out in their numbers all season at away games and we’re always grateful for that support.
“It will be a tough game at Barnsley. They’ve had the change of manager – similar to Peterborough – and that often brings about better results.
“We all know the type of football which Lee Johnson likes to play. He wants his team to get the ball down and play.
“Today and tomorrow in training we will work on our shape and tactics for that one and get ourselves ready.”