Preston North End boss Alex Neil wants Josh Harrop to take more risks in final third

Preston boss Alex Neil wants Josh Harrop to take a few more risks in his play around the opposition penalty box.

Tuesday, 7th August 2018, 12:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th August 2018, 1:48 pm

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The former Manchester United man played as a No.10 in PNE’s 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

He put in a good display and delivered the free-kick from which Alan Browne headed the winner.

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Josh Harrop looks to find an opening in PNE's opening day win over QPR

But Neil thinks a little bit more devilment would not go amiss in that creative role.

Neil said: “I would just like to see Josh be a bit more incisive.

“He had a good game against QPR but I want to see him turn and drive more – he has got good legs and can get past players.

“I just felt that at times he was a bit safe around the edge of the box.

Preston North End's Josh Harrop in action against QPR

“Josh is in there to create, there is still more to come from him and from us.

“But all-in-all, he made a good start.”

Neil pushed Harrop and Browne up behind frontman Louis Moult, relying on Ben Pearson as the one holding midfielder.

With QPR content to sit off for much of the game, PNE were able to get on the front foot and take the play to their visitors.

Said Neil: “The idea was for us to have two running No.10s in Josh and Alan, with Louis Moult sinking in and taking the ball.

“Their centre-backs didn’t want to be drawn out to where Louis was going.

“Some other teams might set up differently against us so we’ll need to come up with an alternative and others might be more suited to do that.

“I thought for 70 minutes on Saturday that approach worked a treat.

“But it won’t be the case every week.”

Last season Harrop was largely used from the bench, with 27 of his 38 appearances in the league being as a sub.

He started the final two games of last season and will hope that Saturday’s start is more of a sign of things to come.

Neil’s midfield options are plentiful, that certainly in comparison to the top end of the pitch where attempts are being made to strengthen.

In the latter stages against QPR, Paul Gallagher and Ryan Ledson came on as subs.

Graham Burke, who like Harrop is seen primarily as a No.10, remained on the bench and Daniel Johnson didn’t make the squad because of a calf injury.

There does seem to be some doubt about DJ’s future with him now in the last year of his contract and showing no signs of agreeing a new one.