Man City youngster Brandon Barker benefitting from Preston North End boss's approach
Alex Neil believes easing Manchester City loanee Brandon Barker into action is paying dividends for Preston North End.
The winger suffered a serious hamstring injury while with Hibernian last season, meaning the Lilywhites are taking care with the Citizens prospect.
He made it two goals in two League Cup starts on Tuesday night with a stunning strike against Leeds in the 2-0 win at Elland Road.
His Championship involvement has been limited to three substitute appearances.
“Brandon did really well but it was the same against Morecambe in the first round,” said Neil.
“We had to be steady with him when we brought him in.
“At Hibs he went from not much game time to playing a lot and he tore his hamstring and was out for a length of time.
“We were conscious when we got him he hadn’t played a lot of minutes.
“We’ve steadily built him up and he showed with his goal that bit of individual bit of quality he’s got.”
Having run from his own half Barker fired a fine left-footed finish beyond Jamal Blackman to give PNE a key two-goal advantage in the League Cup second- round tie.
“It was important in the context of the game and gave us a huge lift,” said Neil.
“A one-goal lead is always very difficult to hold on to and a two-goal lead is very different and I thought it knocked the wind out of Leeds’ sails and also gave us that extra little bit. It was a fantastic goal.”
Neil is confident there is still plenty more to come from the 21-year-old.
“He’s still a kid,” said the PNE boss.
“He’s been on loan in Holland and Scotland and he still had it to prove in England for me. He’s started two games for us, scored two goals and is a real threat.
“We just need to work on his positional sense a bit but that will come.”