Trip to Ireland sparks return to scoring form for PNE's Tom Barkhuizen
Alan Browne is delighted to see his Preston team-mate Tom Barkhuizen back among the goals.
Barkhuizen played a big part in PNE’s 5-0 victory over Cobh Ramblers on Tuesday, netting a first-half hat-trick.
He and Browne were in the XI which played an hour of the clash in Cork before the full team was changed.
“Tom has had a bit of a slow start but is showing now what he is capable of,” said Browne.
“He uses that pace of his tremendously well and that is a huge advantage to both him and the team.
“Tom showcasing that now with the start of the season coming up is great to see.”
Barkhuizen had not found the net in North End’s opening two friendlies against Bamber Bridge and AFC Fylde which finished 7-0 and 6-1.
His last goal had come in the 3-1 victory at Bolton on Gentry Day in March.
Last season Barkhuizen scored nine goals, while in the 2106/17 campaign he found the net six times in his first six starts after signing from Morecambe.
The win over Cobh came during North End’s training week in Ireland.
It was played at Cork City’s ground, Browne’s former stamping ground – North End signed him when he was an Under-19s player there.
Browne said: “It was nice to go back home and play in front of people I know.
“Pre-season is going well – it is all about getting minutes under your belt.
“The gaffer is trying to even it out fairly in terms of how much we play, getting the boys ready for the season.
“We are steadily making progress and we’ll continue to build up.”
The squad fly back home tomorrow and will face West Ham at Deepdale on Saturday.
Burnley then pay a visit on Monday night, the step up to face the Premier League duo sure to be a big test.
Neil is likely to use both matches to push some of the squad to 90-minute run-outs.
The most they have played to date is an hour and this will be the next stage.
There is the capacity in the squad to field different XIs in both games, backed up by youngsters on the bench.
It is unlikely that those who Preston are trying to offload at the moment will feature in the forthcoming games.
Eoin Doyle, Andy Boyle, Ben Pringle, Kevin O’Connor and Marnick Vermijl are not with the squad in Ireland.
Centre-back Boyle is the only one of the five to have played in pre-season, featuring for half-an-hour at AFC Fylde.
He was needed at Mill Farm as Tom Clarke sat that game out with a groin injury.
Clarke returned against Cobh and played for an hour.
Josh Earl missed the game with a thigh strain.