PNE boss Neil pleased with Irishman's versatility

Preston manager Alex Neil has praised the versatility of Alan Browne after another change of position.

Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 5:00 am
Alan Browne gets pre-match instructions from PNE manager Alex Neil at Millwall

The midfielder filled in at right-back in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Millwall at The Den and did an admirable job.

Browne’s only other run there was in the final stages of the Boxing Day clash with Barnsley.

Neil is a big fan of Browne and the versatility he brings to the squad.

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Last month, he jumped to the defence of the Irishman after criticism of him during the Nottingham Forest game.

Browne was needed at right-back, with Tom Clarke moving across into the centre of defence in the absence of the injured Paul Huntington.

Darnell Fisher and Calum Woods were out injured, with Marnick Vermijl down the pecking order.

“Alan is a really honest lad and I have already voiced my frustration at anyone who is going to criticise him,” said Neil.

“I don’t think they realise how good a player he is and how important to us Alan is.

“He is the type of boy who you ask to do something and he does it 100% every time.

“I thought he was excellent at right-back on Saturday.”

Browne has filled a variety of roles this season.

Neil has often played the 22-year-old as a No.10 behind the striker.

He’s played as a holding midfielder and when injuries bit deep against Aston Villa in November, Browne played the second half in the centre of defence.

However well Browne did at right-back, Neil is keen to put round pegs in round holes.

Fisher is nearing a return to action after a month out with a hip injury, while Woods’ hamstring strain is not as bad as first feared.

Not using Vermijl at all does raise questions over the Belgian’s future.

Vermijl was in the squad which travelled to Millwall but he did not make the bench.

Earlier in the season, Neil suggested that he could play Vermijl further forward as he was not convinced right-back was his best position.

Neil, meanwhile, was full of praise for North End’s away following at Millwall.

His side was backed by 1,483 travelling supporters in South London.

Said Neil: “We have got a young group of players doing their best in every game.

“They work their socks off for the club and for the fans, and deserve to be backed.

“We have lost one game in the last 12, we are doing really well and the more backing we get, the better.

“The fans were excellent at Milwall, really vocal.

“After we conceded the goal, they were willing us on to get the equaliser.

“It was great that they turned out in their numbers.”