Joe Rodwell-Grant is hoping for more youth team opportunities in the New Year after making a goalscoring impact on his first start at U18 level away at Port Vale.
The U16 forward had made three substitute appearances earlier this term and, incidentally, made his youth team debut in the same fixture last season, away to the Valiants.
The striker opened the scoring in the game but that ultimately counted for little, the home side going on to win 3-2, and although disappointed to come away with nothing, Rodwell-Grant was optimistic he could provide the desired goalscoring impact from a starting role if given the chance again.
“The boys played really well but unfortunately we didn’t get the win,” Joe told PNE.Com. “It’s been a long time coming [making the first start] and I’ve been looking forward to it.
“I’m happy that I’ve come in and scored in my first start, with my first goal for the U18 team. But obviously I’m unhappy with the loss.
“I had to focus more on my responsibility and the role which I had to achieve [as a starter]. It’s obviously different to coming on from the bench because you’re trying to make an impact throughout the game instead of just parts of the game that you’re otherwise on the bench for.
“I just had to keep composed in the area and slot the finish away. I’ve just got to keep getting in the areas in the box and hopefully I can get a lot of chances and put those chances away.”
Joe was on target in midweek at county level, too, playing for the Lancashire Schools FA side, following recent outings off the bench for North End in matches against Morecambe and Bury, those games sandwiched either side of the FA Youth Cup success over Charlton in early December.
And with FA Youth Cup action set to return to Deepdale next month, Category One Norwich City the visitors for the fourth round tie, Rodwell-Grant hopes he can carry his form into the New Year and work himself into contention for another high-profile evening for the youth team in PR1.
“It’s good to get more games in which helps me playing for Preston and at county level; that’s really good for me,” he continued.
“We can always take positives out of every game and I’m just looking forward to next year and hopefully getting off to a good start.
“I think one of the next matches is against Norwich [following a double header against Accrington Stanley] and we’re looking forward to that and we’ll be ready for it.
“I was in and around the squad last time against Charlton and hopefully I can do the same for the Norwich game, maybe get on the bench and impact the game as I have here.”