If any player can feel a little hard done by over his time at Preston North End, it may be Hearts winger Josh Ginnelly.

PNE pounced to sign Ginnelly back in January 2019, paying a nominal fee to snap him up from Walsall.

21 at the time of his arrival, Ginnelly was seen as a decent prospect after previously being in the Burnley ranks.

We never really got to see Ginnelly in action though as he struggled to break through at Deepdale.

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Ginnelly made five consecutive substitute appearances at the end of the 2018-19 season but made just one Championship appearance in the next season.

Remarkably, Ginnelly’s only start for PNE actually came as a left back as Alex Neil experimented with him against Hull City in an EFL Cup tie.

A brief loan to Bristol Rovers materialised in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic took over.

PNE then loaned Ginnelly to Hearts, which became a permanent move in 2021 as his two-and-a-half-year spell as a PNE player ended with just nine appearances.

Ginnelly is now shining in Scotland though and has become an important player at Tynecastle.

The 25-year-old scored twice on Saturday afternoon, helping Hearts beat Callum Davidson’s St. Johnstone 3-0.

Ginnelly was part of a front three for Hearts – a far cry from being shoved in at left back!

That takes Ginnelly’s record for the season to seven goals and two assists in 21 league games for Hearts this season.

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Teammate Andy Halliday has now raved about Ginnelly, telling Open Goal that he is always a threat because he has so much pace and is always running in behind defences.

“He is the one in our team that always does that in games – stretching it for us, running in behind, he’s always a threat, he’s rapid,” said Halliday.

PNE are woefully one-paced at the moment and whilst Ginnelly may never have made the grade at North End, a player with his skillset is desperately needed at Deepdale.

Ginnelly is out of contract this summer and is surely on course for a new deal.

Football Scotland note that, excluding the Old Firm games, Hearts are unbeaten in 13 games with Ginnelly as a starter, winning 10 and drawing three.

It’s nice to see Ginnelly impressing in Scotland and director of football Joe Savage – formerly of PNE himself – will be delighted to have benefited from North End letting the winger go.

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