Liam Millar didn’t waste any time in introducing himself to the Preston North End faithful on Saturday. The tricky Canadian’s direct running and trickery led to the opening goal inside the first minute, and the former Liverpool player would continue to cause havoc all afternoon.
The wing-back positions have been the most discussed during Ryan Lowe’s tenure. He has tried countless players in those positions, and whilst Brad Potts has cemented his place on the right, the left was up for grabs this season.
Kian Best impressed in the early games, but is still a very raw talent. Andrew Hughes can do a job there as shown in the Stoke City game, and Robbie Brady offers a more experienced option. Of course Alvaro Fernandez was wonderful to watch last season, but he is now plying his trade on loan with Granada in La Liga.
So step forward Liam Millar. Whilst left-wing back may not be his preferred position he certainly made an impact there. He did play on the left predominantly for Basel this season, but he had a left-back covering him. It meant on Saturday he had to cover a lot of ground, and in the end he was playing on one leg practically after suffering with cramp.
Ryan Lowe hasn’t really had this type of player available to him since coming to Preston at the end of 2021. Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair were the last players we had with a bit of skill, pace and flair. They didn’t ever settle in a Lowe team though.
MORE PRESTON STORIES
We have been crying out for pace in this team, and to be able to have such a direct player capable of taking on players is so crucial for us. It allows us to get up the pitch so much easier ,and get the ball in the box when as shown by Duane Holmes, we’re going to have players in there supporting the striker.
Millar also played down the middle in the latter part of the game once Milutin Osmajic was withdrawn. He can definitely work in that position if we can provide him some through balls to run onto.
One loan signing in recent years that comes to mind when thinking of players with that extra something is Aiden McGeady. He arrived on loan from Everton in the 2016/17 season, and had fans on the edge of their seats all year long. He was a joy to watch and his eight goals and nine assists played a huge part in us flirting with the play-offs that year.
Ultimately we finished 11th and despite the Irishman wanting to stay, he moved to Sunderland to link up with Simon Grayson again. McGeady was capable of producing something out of nothing. When he was on the ball, you felt like he was always capable of producing some magic.
Hopefully Millar can play in a similar way. He was a great outlet for us on Saturday, with a lot of our attacking play coming through him. Perhaps more of a direct runner than McGeady, who preferred to find some space and get a shot on goal rather than trying to run past the man. Mads Frokjaer fits more into that role.
But Millar is clearly a very talented player. It has been frustrating at times under Lowe when we’re on the counter attack and we lacked players with ideas, and creativity.
Millar’s ball into Osmajic in the second half yesterday was perfect, and the Montenegrin was unlucky not to get a debut goal himself. It was a very impressive debut, and Preston may have pulled off a huge signing in bringing Millar back to England for this season.