PNE winger Barkhuizen being eyed by South Africa

Preston North End winger Tom Barkhuizen could get the opportunity to perform on the international stage with South Africa.

Tom Barkhuizen (top) celebrates scoring with Callum Robinson
Tom Barkhuizen (top) celebrates scoring with Callum Robinson

And it is a one-time PNE player who will be providing him with the chance.

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter played for North End between 1973 and 1976, having risen through the youth ranks at Deepdale.

Baxter is on the look out for players in Europe who are eligible to play for the Bafana.

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter in his PNE playing days

Although born in Blackpool, Barkhuizen has South African ancestry through his grandfather.

He is understood to be open to the idea of playing for South Africa although there is nothing definite at this stage.

Barkhuizen has become a key figure in the North End squad over the last 12 months.

He has started all but one of PNE’s last 49 Championship matches – featuring as a sub in the game he did not start.

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter in his PNE playing days

The 24-year-old has scored eight goals this season, four of them in the last nine games.

His latest goal came against Bolton on Gentry Day earlier in the month.

Lilywhites manager Alex Neil has in the main used him on the wings but Barkhuizen has also featured as a striker. Signed from Morecambe in January 2017 – the deal having been struck a couple of months before – he scored six goals in his first six North End starts last March.

South Africa coach Baxter is in his second spell in the job.

Having been in charge for a year between 2004 and 2005, he returned to the post last June after the Bafana failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Baxter made his Preston debut in April 1973 as the club battled against relegation from Division Two.

PNE stayed up after a 1-1 draw against Burnley on the final day of the season.

He became a regular the next season under the management of Sir Bobby Charlton.

Baxter went on to play in Scotland, the United States and Scandinavia.

He has coached extensively around the world and was the England Under-19s coach for two years.

Between 2008 and 2010 he was Finland coach, while he has worked in Turkey, Japan and Sweden.

Baxter’s younger brother Mick played for PNE too and was in the Third Division promotion winning side of 1977/78.

Mick Baxter sadly passed away at the age of 32 in 1989, having returned to Deepdale to work as PNE’s community development officer.