Preston North End’s Irish international midfielder Alan Browne has had a memorable week, scoring his first international goal, but is now back in situ at Springfields, ready to prepare for the visit of Brentford to Deepdale.
The Lilywhites’ No.8 scored the opening goal in Mick McCarthy’s side’s 3-1 win over Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night, his first for his country, and admitted to iFollow PNE that it had been a special week.
“It was really pleasing for me, not just to get the goal, but to get another cap, on top of the one I got in the game before. Overall it was a great trip and one to remember,” said Alan.
“The most important thing was to go out and win the game. The lads who have been playing in the qualifiers have been fantastic, so it was all about putting on a performance and putting a seed of doubt in the gaffer’s mind for following selections. To get a goal really topped it all off.
“We have given ourselves every chance [of qualifying]. We won games we should have won and we stuck in games that we knew would be very difficult, so overall we can be pleased with how we have done so far, but we know the most difficult games are still to come.
“We are in a great position at the moment, but there is a long way to go. It is exciting to be involved. Since the new gaffer came in there has been a turnaround in terms of the atmosphere, performances and results.
“Everyone is really on board with how he wants us to play and you can see that in the performances in the games. We have a great and talented bunch and we will go into the forthcoming games confident, but aware of the talent the opposition have, showing them the respect them deserve.”
Back with his club side, the 24-year-old has played in a number of positions of late; captaining the side from midfield and also playing right back on a couple of occasions – and he is happy to do a job for the team, something he believes shows the manager’s belief in him.
“I have had to do a job for the team and that came off the back of the cup games,” he continued. “I played the first game and then dropped out of the team – probably rightly so – and the boys have been fantastic ever since.
“I am always been happy to play wherever on the pitch, but I want to come back now with a lot of confidence from the international games and get back to scoring goals, because that is what I enjoy most.
“If we are struggling with suspensions or injuries, I am happy to play anywhere on the pitch and it is good that the gaffer trusts me in those sort of roles.
“The manager has shown a lot of confidence in me in the years since he has come to the club and I like to think I am one of the players he trusts and I know that wherever he picks me on the pitch, I will give 100 per cent and do my best for the team. It is good to have that kind of relationship and good for the team and myself as well.”
Wherever Browne is involved, he knows that the next test is Thomas Frank’s Bees, a side he has experienced positives and negatives against in his six years with the club.
“I remember when I first came to the club when we played Brentford away and they went up – I don’t think I will ever forget that. I wasn’t used to things like that at the time and it caught me by surprise.
“They are a fantastic football club and the way they play is brilliant and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be up there and competing at the top of the league, but our home form this season has been really good and we are looking to build on that now.
“The way they play will be one for the gaffer to look at and assess the situation to decide what the best way to go about it is. Everybody knows we like to press and, especially at home, we are not going to sit back and invite the pressure. We will look to get amongst them and it will down to the gaffer how he wants us to set up.”
The game is a chance to keep the excellent home record at the start of the 2019/20 season going and Alan says that he feels the support from the terraces has been one of the factors in the good start at Deepdale.
“We’ve been fantastic at home, but equally the fans have been really good as well.
“They have come in their numbers and not getting on our backs with one silly pass.
“It is important we have the backing of the fans and from there we can only breath the confidence that they put into us.
“It has been really good so far, but we have to keep that momentum going and take it into the away games as well.
“I don’t think it should take something like Manchester City coming to Deepdale to get a packed out stadium. The way we have been playing and the fact we have exceeded expectations at times, that should bring more fans to the games.
“It is pleasing to see more tickets being sold, but I don’t see any excuse for it not being like that every week,” he added.