Alan Browne has been a key player ever since Alex Neil’s arrival as Preston boss, but he’s having to adjust this season.

The Irishman was a promising box-to-box midfielder under Simon Grayson, but Neil had other ideas. The Scot turned Browne into a number 10, which was met with real criticism in the 2017-18 season.

He isn’t the most technically-gifted number 10 of all time, but he was excellent at breaking into the box to score goals. In his final two seasons under Grayson, he scored three goals. In his first two seasons under Neil, he found the net 19 times.

More of the same was expected this term, but it hasn’t quite materialised. In fact, Browne is no longer North End’s first-choice number 10.

DUBLIN, IRELAND – SEPTEMBER 10: Alan Browne of Ireland celebrates after he scores his sides first goal during the International Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria at Aviva Stadium on September 10, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Daniel Johnson’s sensational form has seen him take that role, meaning Browne has been forced to adapt. His new role has mostly been as a substitute, or occasionally as a makeshift right back.

That means that Browne is yet to score this season, at least for Preston. In the last international break, he showed his attacking quality by scoring his first goal for the Republic of Ireland.

Browne is again in the Ireland squad, this time to face Georgia and Switzerland. Ahead of playing for Mick McCarthy’s side, he has discussed his start to the season.

Speaking to Off The Ball, Browne admitted that it has been a ‘tough’ season so far in terms of his playing time. However, he admitted that he’s happy to play in other roles to help the team, such as right back.

Preston North End midfielder Alan Browne and Barnsley midfielder Cameron McGeehan during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Barnsley at Deepdale, Preston on Saturday 5th October 2019. (Credit: Andy Whitehead | MI News)

Browne added that his situation is ‘difficult’, but he can’t complain to Neil, because everyone is playing so well right now. Instead, he’s ready to just be patient and bide his time, with a long season ahead.

“I don’t mind changing roles within the team,” said Browne. “It has been a tough season so far. I don’t think that’s down to how badly I’ve done, but the lads ahead of me at club level have done fantastic so far and that shows with our position in the league.”

“It is difficult, I can’t really go into the gaffer and complain that I need to start because the boys are doing a job who are in there. I’ve got to be patient and keep working hard,” he added.

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