A Big Step Up
Josh Earl, along with fellow academy graduate Melle Meulensteen, has taken the next step towards making his name in the professional game by joining the first team squad this pre-season.
Earl has featured in pre-season for Preston and the defender has loved it.
He admitted to the Official Website it had been a difficult leap from training and playing for the U18s into the first team squad but Earl feels he's adapted well has quickly learned what's needed.
'It was quite difficult to start off with, but I feel like I have coped well with it. It is a big step up from U18 football, so it is a good test for me and I am enjoying it. It was a different level of intensity. It was tougher physically as well, but I think I can cope with that, but the intensity is a lot higher and the games are a lot quicker than youth team level, but I am relishing the opportunity.'
Adding: 'It is a huge step from U18 football for the first team, especially when that`s all you have been used to for two years, but the games so far have been a good step up and you learn to quicken your game up very quickly.'
Earl, 18, has been handed a squad number this season and the no.32 said he's been impressed with the new boss Alex Neil, who he's of course looking to impress himself to have a chance of Championship involvement this season.
He spoke about how Neil has 'reiterated that he wants to make us better players, which is nice to hear' and there's a confidence about the squad that all feel they'll be able to play the way the boss wants.
Reflecting on his minutes against Bamber Bridge and Stockport County Earl knows mistakes will be made but that's part of the learning process and actually being handed some minutes after training with the first team has been a bonus.
He said: 'I am enjoying the games. Getting minutes is a bonus as a young player and I feel as though I am coping with it and that I am doing well and now I just need to keep pushing on and see where it takes me. One of the biggest things we have to do is show the manager that we are taking on board what he wants, as well as performing.'
Concluding: 'During pre-season you are always going to make a few mistakes, but we have to make sure we understand how he wants to play and implement that in the games, it`s an important aspect of pre-season.'
It'll be interesting to see what part Earl does play in the season ahead? A loan could be the order of the day for him and Melle Meulensteen unless Neil genuinely does think they will get enough first team experience to keep them at Deepdale.