Preston take on West Bromwich Albion tonight, with fans no doubt feeling a little lost over the weekend. It’s rare that a Saturday goes by without North End playing, so this has been a rather quiet weekend at Deepdale.
There was a youth team game on Saturday though, and after two straight defeats in the Championship, North End’s first team would no doubt love to replicate what the youngsters produced on Saturday.
Preston’s youth side took on Port Vale at UCLan on Saturday, and ran out big winners in a 9-1 victory. That’s of course a great victory for North End’s youngsters, and two players stole the show.
Unsurprisingly, Ethan Walker was one of those players. The attacker made his first-team debut last season, coming on as a substitute against Aston Villa at Deepdale.
Walker, 17, hasn’t appeared for Preston’s first team again since, but continues to shine for the Under-18’s. That was the case against Port Vale, and he got the ball rolling by crossing for Lincoln McFayden to open the scoring.
Walker bagged a brace of his own before being substituted at the break, racking up two goals and an assist in just 45 minutes. Walker ran riot, and whilst his substitution isn’t necessarily a sign that he’ll be included against West Brom tonight, he’s hard to ignore.
15 minutes into the second half, North End introduced attacker Jacob Holland-Wilkinson – and he had a huge impact too.
Holland-Wilkinson managed to smash a hat-trick in just 12 minutes, seizing his chance to shine. The teenager’s path to Preston is an interesting one, as he was actually recommended to North End by the father of Under-18 teammate Joe Rodwell-Grant. Born in Bury, Holland-Wilkinson will now hope to really kick on with Preston after his remarkable hat-trick.
With an FA Youth Cup tie with Bristol City on the horizon, all these Preston talents have a chance to impress and prove they can step up into the first team like Josh Earl and Ben Davies; especially Walker, who has already had a taste of first-team action.