PNE in Numbers: Milestones for Preston pair Tom Barkhuizen and Daniel Johnson
There were two milestones from Preston North End players in the week just gone.
BIG INTERVIEW: Why Daniel Johnson always wanted to stay with Preston North EndBoth, in a way, are examples of the kind of talent that the Lilywhites are trying to build their success on.
First on Saturday at Derby, Tom Barkhuizen’s introduction as a 68th-minute substitute in the 2-0 defeat at Pride Park was his 200th senior appearance in the Football League.
His path to establishing himself at Deepdale was far from a straightforward one.
Having come through the ranks at Blackpool, Barkhuizen had loan spells at Hereford, Fleetwood and Morecambe, before being lost in the shuffle as managers came and went at Bloomfield Road.
It was with the Shrimps that he rebuilt his career after moving to the Globe Arena on a permanent deal in the summer of 2015.
An impressive 18 months with Jim Bentley’s men saw him make the jump from the lower end of League Two to the Championship after catching the eye of the Deepdale hierarchy.
His double century of appearances have brought 42 goals.
There have been 14 thus far for PNE, 15 for Morecambe and 11 during what was a breakthrough 2011-12 season with Hereford as they dropped out of the league.
As well as recruiting from the lower leagues and Ireland, North End have in recent years made a habit of picking top talent coming out of Premier League academies but struggling for game-time with top-flight clubs.
Daniel Johnson is one of those players, the former Aston Villa man hitting 150 Lilywhites appearances in the League Cup win at Leeds on Tuesday night.
DJ marked it in some style, scoring his 25th PNE goal with a cool early penalty which helped Alex Neil’s side on their way to a 2-0 victory at Elland Road.
Like Barkhuizen, it is at Preston that Johnson has truly made his way in the game.
Having struggled for opportunities at Villa Park he had loan spells with Yeovil, Chesterfield and Oldham Athletic.
His time at Boundary Park particularly caught the eye, with three goals coming in seven appearances at the end of 2014.
Johnson made the move to Deepdale for just £50,000 in January 2015 and the rest, as they say is history.
Both came to PNE with something to prove and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Now the question is whether the duo, and the others like them in the squad, can take North End to the next level.