Preston North End boss Alex Neil on where Brandon Barker can improve his game
Preston manager Alex Neil is looking for Brandon Barker to work on the defensive side of his game to add to the winger's promising attacking play.
The 21-year-old made his first Championship start in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bolton at Deepdale.
He set up the opening goal for Callum Robinson and played for an hour before giving way to Louis Moult.
Last week at Leeds in the League Cup, Barker scored a superb solo goal – he had netted in the previous round against Morecambe too.
Barker joined North End on loan from Manchester City last month, signed to cover the long-term loss of Billy Bodin to a torn cruciate ligament.
Neil said: “He is going to have to learn the sense of working for the team.
“That is the thing when you bring young players in.
“Generally they have very good talent but you have to add other things to their game.
“We got to where we got to last year by hard work, being diligent, knowing our jobs and doing our duty.
“When you start being a bit loose and baggy, we’ll run back when we want, that isn’t going to work for us.
“If you look at the teams in this league and some of the players they have got, when it is a case of, ‘You play, we play’ that is going to be tough for us.
“We are going to have to make sure that we work hard as a unit.”
Barker played on the left-hand side of the attack in a 4-2-3-1 system against Bolton.
Graham Burke operated on the opposite side, with Alan Browne as a No.10 behind striker Callum Robinson.
At the interval, Burke was substituted and replaced by Tom Barkhuizen.
The other half of the double change came in midfield with Daniel Johnson on for Paul Gallagher.
At the other end of the pitch, Neil chose to start skipper Tom Clarke at right-back instead of Darnell Fisher.
Explaining that decision, Neil said: “We knew Bolton were a threat from set-plays and like to get the ball forward as quickly as they can – then work from there.
“Tom going into the team was to help us deal with that threat.
“I thought that worked well for us – we negated a lot of their threat.
“But after being a threat ourselves, we conceded a poor first goal and then weren’t in control of the game.
“Their right-back scored the second goal after we had switched off. We didn’t do our defensive duty.”