Preston have seen Ben Davies and Josh Earl emerge from the youth setup in recent times, but Josh Brownhill remains one that got away.
North End fans were excited when Brownhill burst onto the scene in 2013, scoring on his first league start against Gillingham at the age of just 17.
Brownhill showed real potential as a forward-thinking midfielder, possessing energy and goals, but he faded out of Simon Grayson’s lineup, and with Preston in the Championship, he was sent back down to League One, penning a loan deal with Barnsley.
Just months later, Brownhill left Preston at the end of his contract to join Bristol City, managed by his former Barnsley boss Lee Johnson. Since then, Brownhill has really kicked on.
Now 24, Brownhill is Bristol City vice-captain behind Bailey Wright, and missed just one Championship game last season. This term, he’s already notched five goals from midfield, and is really on his way to fulfilling the potential he showed at Preston.
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Brownhill is now, unsurprisingly, attracting interest from the Premier League. The Daily Mail claim that our Lancashire rivals Burnley are keen to bring Brownhill back to the North West, with Sean Dyche seemingly impressed.
Burnley may only pursue Brownhill if they can’t land Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, who is currently on loan at Charlton Athletic. Ironically, North End also hold an interest in Gallagher’s signature if he becomes available.
Seeing Brownhill join a Premier League side would be a kick in the gut for North End having lost him on the cheap just over three years ago, but seeing him join a rival in Burnley would be even tougher to stomach.
Whether it’s with Bristol City, Burnley or somebody else, Brownhill looks set for a Premier League future – and leave North End wondering what could have been at Deepdale.