It’s been a long road back to the Preston first team for Josh Harrop, but he’s making sure he takes his chance.
The 23-year-old picked up a major knee injury last September, tearing his ACL against West Bromwich Albion. After around nine months out, Harrop returned to the Preston side during pre-season.
However, he didn’t really take his chance then. Harrop was neat and tidy in pre-season, as he always has been, but failed to really impact games. That was one thing we called for; that Harrop starts to use his talent to really change games.
When he wasn’t even in the matchday squad for the first two games of the season, alarm bells were ringing. He wasn’t even named as a starter for the Carabao Cup tie with League Two Bradford City.
He did though come on in that game and score, and has seized his chances since. He was handed a shock start against Stoke City last week, and not only impressed throughout but also got himself a goal.
Harrop was back on the bench for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday, which raised eyebrows. However, that was Harrop’s first competitive 90 minutes in almost a year, so a steady approach is a sensible one.
Recalled against Hull City on Tuesday, Harrop was involved in both goals. He whipped in a superb free kick for Paul Huntington to open the scoring, before making it 2-0 himself. Tom Barkhuizen’s shot was parried inside the box, and Harrop followed up to score.
One thing to note is that his goals against Stoke and Hull both showed his ability to get into the box and score. That’s what North End need to see; Harrop busting a gut to get into the box and follow up loose balls to find the net.
Now, boss Alex Neil has admitted that even Harrop himself will say he was poor in pre-season, offering a brutally honest view on his summer preparations.
Neil did though add that he thinks Harrop has been ‘brilliant’ in his last two games. With the North End boss happy with Harrop’s progress, Preston are hoping that he will finally start to fulfil his potential at Deepdale.