Brad Potts arrived from Barnsley in January 2019 and he hit the ground running for Preston North End.
He added something different to the squad and it seemed like a perfect addition. A memorable performance against Stoke City away early in his North End career showed that he could be a shrewd signing by Alex Neil.
However, a disrupted 2019-20 season wasn’t the best for Potts. He failed to follow up on his initial promise and was troubled by fitness issues. He has always been a favourite of Neil’s though, which is something that has irked a lot of fans.
Neil tends to favour Potts in away games where North End may be up against it. When played out wide, Potts adds an extra defensive dimension, that your traditional winger might not. He’s a lot more physical than Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen and is very direct with his running.
North End fans like to have a scapegoat; someone they can easily point the finger at if things go wrong. Chris Sedgwick, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Hugill and Jayden Stockley have held that title in the past. Potts seems to be the current incumbent. He was heavily involved in the game against QPR but his finishing wasn’t up to scratch.
On Saturday he was on hand to apply the finish to a rebound off Sinclair’s first-half shot shot. It was a first time finish that had to be accurate, and the power ensured it couldn’t be stopped on the line. He then hit the crossbar in the second half and laid a great ball through to Ched Evans to score the second of the game.
It was a performance that silenced the doubters for now, and it showed how important he can be to the team. Potts asked Alex Neil for a run in the team in that number 10 position, and he looks set to get that for the foreseeable future having excelled against Huddersfield.
Potts has a lot of chances in a game and whilst his finishing isn’t always on point, you have to give him credit for always being in the right moments. He’s very attacking as a number 10 and is keen to get in the box as often as possible. He meets a lot of crosses and is there for many rebounds, which deserves praise. He times his runs well and the celebrations yesterday showed he is clearly appreciated by his teammates too.
On the whole, it’s a very new-look Preston team at the moment. It feels even more unfamiliar with no fans being able to see the players live in action. Saturday’s performance showed the team are gelling together and the fans should get behind that. Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Darnell Fisher have gone, they’re not coming back. Time for some new heroes to step forward.