A host of Premier League clubs are said to be monitoring the progress of a young midfielder in League 1.
Preston North End midfielder Josh Brownhill only made his professional debut last month, but has already caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs.
After impressing in the youth team for North End, Josh Brownhill was handed an opportunity by manager Simon Grayson in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy match against Oldham. Unfortunately his professional debut was to end in defeat, but he impressed enough to continue to be involved in the first team.
He was handed his first start in a league match away to Gillingham, and duly took his opportunity. In front of his Mum and Dad he finished off a well worked team goal which helped The Lillywhites to a 2-1 victory. He has now made a total of six appearances for the club, keeping out Iain Hume, and Lee Holmes on occasions; two experienced players which any club would be lucky to have in League 1. He also made a fool of Edgar Davids in the recent FA Cup tie against Barnet. The video of which is below.
Brownhill has mainly been employed in a role where he plays just behind the two strikers. It is a difficult role for someone of just 17 years to go straight into, but he has handled it well and has looked extremely confident on the ball. His play can be resembled to Ross Barkley in some ways. Whilst he isn't at that same standard yet, he shares the same confidence and is constantly looking to supply the ball to the attackers, and progress up the pitch.
The former Manchester United trainee started off the season in Preston's youth side, and due to his great goalscoring record of six goals in eight games was handed a chance in the first team, It is safe to say he has not looked back, and looks set to continue to contribute to North End's promotion push this season. Paul Gallagher has since been brought in, and he plays in a similar role to Brownhill. But as he is surrounded by many talented experienced players at the club, he can only continue to progress. It isn't a huge squad at Deepdale, so he shouldn't find himself too far down the pecking order at any point.
This isn't the first time the top club's in the Premier League have reportedly been eyeing up a Preston North End youngster. In 2010 Adam Barton broke onto the scene, after scoring against Burnley live on the BBC. Liverpool were linked with a £5 million bid for him shortly after. He was highly rated at North End but unfortunately suffered a triple leg break and a dislocated ankle in February 2012. He then went on to join current club Coventry City.
The hype around Brownhill might be premature at the moment. North End fans have high hopes for the midfielder but it is still very early days for the 17-year old. The aforementioned clubs have often brought players through their own ranks very successfully so I would be surprised if they were to move for Brownhill so soon into his career.
He may have what it takes to go to the very top, but as a North End fan myself I hope he makes it there with his current club.
image: © Matt and Kim Rudge