Josh Earl has played two halves of first team football already this pre-season, following his step up from the youth team during the summer.
Like fellow former youth team graduate Melle Meulensteen, the 18-year-old has played an important part against Bamber Bridge and Stockport County, operating in the left back berth at both.
Speaking to PNE.Com ahead of the trips to Morecambe (Tuesday) and Accrington Stanley (Wednesday) this week, Josh admitted the step up had been quite a big one, but it was something he was feeling was helping his development.
“It was quite difficult to start off with, but I feel like I have coped well with it,” he told the official website. “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.
“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.”
Like the rest of the squad, the No.32 has had to get used to a new manager and he was enjoying learning from Alex Neil: “The new manager has put his ideas across and he has reiterated that he wants to make us better players, which is nice to hear,” he continued.
“I feel like he will be good for us and we have got a team that suits the way he wants to play, so we will continue to work hard for him and hopefully do well.”
And the game time the Academy graduate has had, has been a bonus he has thoroughly enjoyed: “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.
“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,” he added.