Preston North End boss Ryan Lowe has praised Daniel Johnson after his performance against Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon.
Lowe decided to bring Johnson into the starting XI in search of a first league win in over a month.
The Jamaican playmaker had bizarrely been left out of the matchday squad against Burnley earlier this month, a decision that sparked uproar for many fans.
Lowe called upon Johnson this time though and he certainly got PNE back into the game.
Trailing 1-0 to a Greg Cunningham own goal, Johnson broke into the box and won a somewhat contentious penalty having been taken down by goalkeeper Ben Amos.
Johnson stepped up to slot the penalty home and draw PNE level before Tom Cannon won it.
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Lowe has moved to praise Johnson, telling Lancs Live that he thinks Johnson’s attitude for North End is ‘different class’.
Lowe added that Johnson and Alan Browne are just so important when they’re on form having emerged as leaders at Deepdale for nearly a decade now.
The PNE boss did note that Johnson’s form has been up and down this season but he was ‘fantastic’ against Wigan.
“Fantastic,” said Lowe. “DJ has been in and out of the team, playing well and not so well and he found it hard the other week – being out of the squad. We have sat down and spoke numerous times. His attitude for this football club is different class – him and Browney as vice captain and captain. That is what they do, let alone the other lads. But, when you’ve got those type of players on form, performing, fighting and running – that is what we need and that’s what they give us,” he added.
We can’t talk about Johnson’s form without tackling his contract situation.
Johnson is out of contract this summer and many have expected him to walk away.
The 30-year-old joined PNE from Aston Villa for just £50,000 in January 2015 and has been a mainstay of the team ever since.
We couldn’t exactly blame Johnson if he wants a fresh start after so long at Deepdale, but games like Saturday serve as a welcome reminder of his influence and quality.
Johnson may well leave PNE for free this summer, but let’s hope for a few more displays like Saturday before then.