Preston’s fine run of form continued on Saturday afternoon with a 3-1 win over Millwall.
North End were rampant in the first half, with Andrew Hughes, Tom Clarke and Seani Maguire all on the scoresheet. Ben Thompson’s goal back for Millwall was little more than a consolation, making it four aways win in a row for Preston.
Alex Neil’s side did have to handle some second half pressure, but held firm to claim all three points. After the game, Neil explained some of his tactical decisions, such as bringing on Lukas Nmecha to play out wide.
Neil wanted Nmecha wide in order to keep up with full back Mahlon Romeo, which meant Maguire played 90 minutes. That’s not exactly ideal given his injury history, but Neil explained the thinking to BBC Radio Lancashire.
“I thought Sean, for 60 minutes, was excellent,” said Neil. “I thought he sort of tired badly after that. However, the lad Romeo, the right back, was hurting us down that side so we needed pace with Lukas to keep him in. I’ve been saying for a while that we’re probably one wide player short at the moment. I thought that came to roost again today, in terms of wanting to keep pace at the top end because that was hurting them, but also making sure that we keep the full backs in with pace on the flanks. We’re probably one person with that type of pace short right now,” he added.
The most interesting part of those comments is Neil’s claim that North End are a winger short right now, with Callum Robinson out injured.
Yet there are two other speedy wingers at the club, and neither have used of late; loanee Brandon Barker and new signing Josh Ginnelly.
Barker’s loan move from Manchester City hasn’t gone to plan, and he hasn’t featured in a league game since December 8th. We covered in January how Barker was seemingly furious on Instagram that he didn’t feature against Swansea City.
Barker hasn’t been seen since, but North End curiously didn’t terminate his loan deal in January. With Neil admitting that he’s a winger short, could the 22-year-old return to the fold? It seems hugely unlikely, but desperate times may call for desperate measures.
Meanwhile, Ginnelly arrived from Walsall in January for a nominal fee. The 21-year-old hit four goals and one assist for Walsall this season, but hasn’t yet made his Preston debut.
Ginnelly is certainly quick, so could fit the bill for Neil, but he may be one for next season instead. He hasn’t even been on the bench yet, and Neil suggested in January that he is a ‘project’ player; not ready for the Championship.
AN on Ginnelly: “He is more of a project that anything else at the moment, we are obviously hoping he can hit the ground running, he’s not quite ready yet and we can’t demand too much too soon off these players.” #pnefc
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) January 17, 2019
Nobody really knows how far away Ginnelly is at this point, but with Neil openly admitting he needs a winger, you have to wonder whether Ginnelly will get a chance before the end of the season or not. At least he stands a better chance than Barker…