Josh Earl scored his first goal for Fleetwood Town on Saturday and just his second goal in professional football too as he helped The Cody Army defeat Accrington Stanley 3-0 in the League One game.

The defender left Preston in the summer after close to 15 years with the club. After joining as a nine-year-old he progressed to his first professional contract in 2017 and made his debut for the club that year too at the age of 18. Earl was quick and strong for his age and Preston fans quickly took a liking to him.

He had Greg Cunningham and then Andrew Hughes for competition so it was never straight forward for Earl. Alex Neil gave him plenty of opportunities at a young age and then he had some loan spells in League One. He joined big clubs at that level in Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town but injuries disrupted his time there.

Because of his stature it was often thought Earl could be converted into a centre-back like Ben Davies was a few years earlier. His progression as a player did become stagnant and another loan move to Burton Albion didn’t work out too well for him.

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Last season saw Preston regularly play with five at the back which led to more opportunities for Earl. It also led to Earl’s first ever goal for the club away at Queens Park Rangers. The season actually saw Earl make more appearances for Preston than in any previous campaign. He got 29 Championship appearances under his belt for Ryan Lowe obviously felt that he could do without Earl, and in his place we now have Alvaro Fernandez.

Preston allowed Earl to leave the club for free, with a mutual agreement to cancel his contract, and then he went on to join Fleetwood Town in League One. He was one of Scott Brown’s first signings as a manager and has played in all but one of their 16 league games so far this season.

He scored the third and final goal for them on Saturday as well as contributing to a clean sheet, and they now sit 15th in the table. He has been playing as the left-sided centre-back as Brown likes to play a similar style to Lowe with wing-backs as well.

Earl will be happy to be a first-team regular now at Fleetwood after a very stop and start few years with Preston.

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