Preston haven’t exactly had the best record when it comes to bringing through players from the youth academy.
North End are housed in a difficult area, with so many local clubs hoovering up talent; after all, Phil Jones was born in Leyland but ended up at Blackburn Rovers instead of Preston.
The likes of Adam Nowland and Clarke Carlisle were born in Preston but had to play for Blackpool before eventually joining North End, Anthony Pilkington slipped through North End’s net and James Weir left early for Manchester United – a decision we can’t exactly hold against him.
Andy Lonergan, Kevin Kilbane and Paul McKenna racked up appearances for Preston but were arguably underappreciated, whilst Adam Barton, Danny Mayor and Jamie Proctor never managed to fulfil their potential at Deepdale.
Ben Davies and Josh Earl have given fans hope; they’ve both become first-team regulars under Alex Neil, whilst Neil has also given limited playing time to Jack Baxter and Ethan Walker.
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Now, there’s another talent emerging in the Preston ranks – and this time, he’s a player who arrived at North End via local rivals Burnley and Premier League giants Manchester City.
Tyrhys Dolan joined North End from City in 2017, and the playmaker has shown real quality in the youth setup, bagging ten goals and seven assists last season.
He’s now showing quality on loan at Clitheroe too. He scored in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Droylsden, having opened his account for the non-league side with a goal against Workington in February.
Non-league football is a real test for young players, as they’re forced to play in difficult conditions, against grizzled veterans and often in some rather attritional football, and Dolan is holding up so far.
The knock against Dolan is that, whilst he has so much skill and creativity, he’s a little on the small side, and that may hold him back from becoming a Championship regular at North End.
Yet he’s coping well with the robust nature of non-league football, and that’s exactly how Josh Earl earned his way into the Preston side, having showed promise on loan at Lancaster City before being thrown into Championship action.
North End often lack a little bit a spark in the final third, and Dolan has so far shown that he can provide that. He’s only 18, so there’s still a long way to go, but Dolan’s development is heading in the right direction, giving North End plenty to be excited about – especially as he could come back to haunt Burnley in the future.