Preston boss Alex Neil has told BBC Radio Lancashire that there was never any chance of Daniel Johnson leaving this past summer.
Either way, the August deadline passed with Johnson still at Deepdale. Some fans had wanted him to go, having largely flattered to deceive last season, but he’s proving those fans wrong.
Johnson has been pushed forward into a number 10 role this season, and it’s paying dividends. His brace against Barnsley last time out means he’s now hit seven goals and four assists in 10 Championship appearances this term, a quite ridiculous record.
The 27-year-old is enjoying his best run of form in a Preston shirt, even better than when he helped fire North End to promotion in 2015 following his arrival from Aston Villa.
A player who has always had talent but too often blown hot and cold, the challenge is now for Johnson to keep up this form over the course of the season, and Preston will be in a strong position if he can do that.
Preston fans certainly wouldn’t sell Johnson now, and Neil has been asked about the possibility of him leaving for Wigan before the season started.
Neil admitted there was interest, but gave a firm ‘no’ when asked if Johnson ever looked like leaving. Neil added that Johnson never asked to go, and he himself neer wanted Johnson to go either.
Additionally, Neil feels that Alan Browne is now in the situation Johnson found himself in last season, in terms of struggling to nail down a first-team spot, and thinks Johnson may have been frustrated with that role – but is no doubt happy now.
“No,” said Neil. “, but there wouldn’t have been any chance of DJ leaving. I think the thing is with DJ, where Alan probably finds himself at the moment, DJ found himself. Alan was always taking that role, and DJ was sort of being put in now and again, then put back out then put back in. His form at the moment is what’s got his position on a regular basis, nothing different than that. He would have been frustrated with that, but at no stage did we have a conversation where he wanted to leave, at no stage did I want him leave,” he added.