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Alex Lynch writes a detailed scout report about Alan Browne, the young midfielder who plays for Preston North End.
The English Premier League is arguably the most competitive league in the world, with teams from the bottom half of the league beating the bigger clubs week after week. Since the Premier League is so competitive and hard to get into, the English second tier, the Championship, is very competitive as well. The competition in the Championship makes it the best second division in the world, and one that fields many quality players. A player who has a lot of quality, and plays in the Championship is none other than Preston North End’s Alan Browne. The Irish midfielder has established himself as a player in the Championship, and one that could take the next step in the near future.
Alan Browne is an Irish boy through and through, as he was born in the city of Cork. Cork is one of the biggest cities in Ireland, and one of Ireland’s biggest clubs resides there as well. After starting his career with his local team, Browne was quickly snapped up by Cork City, one of the best clubs in the League of Ireland. Since they’re in a location with a lot of young Irish players, Cork City has produced some of Ireland’s best, such as Southampton’s Shane Long. Being able to play with a club like Cork City helped Browne develop faster than most Irish prospects do, with better facilities and coaching. The platform also gave him the chance to get noticed and play for Ireland at the youth level. Browne got noticed pretty quickly, and in 2013, at the age of 17, Browne made his debut for the Ireland u-19 team. Browne would end up making 8 more caps for the u-19 team, and he ended up captaining the team because of his outstanding performances for them. After making waves for the u-19 team, Browne was included in the Cork City senior squad for the first time in 2013. He didn’t feature in either match, but his accomplishments garnered attention from English and Scottish sides.
Browne left Cork for then League One side Preston North End in January of 2014, having never made a senior appearance for Cork City. Browne made his Preston debut some time after, in March of 2014 against Peterborough United. Browne put in a fine performance, which his manager was quick to praise. Browne built on the progress he made at the end of the 2013-14 season, and he became a regular in the Preston team last season. Browne also featured for the Ireland u-21 team for the first time after joining Preston. He has featured for them over 10 times since, and he’s impressed them a lot. While he impressed internationally, Browne had a very good season in the third tier for Preston as well. His steady and consistent contribution in the midfield helped Preston tremendously. As a result of his performances, along with his teammates’ contributions, Preston achieved promotion to the Championship last season.
So far this season, Browne has been in the first team, and he’s been solid in the midfield at just 20 years old. He’s scored two goals so far, while his main contribution has been his defensive contribution. And with his characteristics, he he’s bound to keep improving and solidifying that Preston midfield.
Alan Browne isn’t a flashy midfielder or one with a lot of skill on the pitch. He won’t dribble around entire teams or score 20 goals, but he still has terrific traits. Browne is your typical Irish midfielder, one who can defend on the ball, and shoot from distance. He plays more like a defensive midfielder than an attacking one in the center of the park. With his playing style, he needs to excel in certain areas, and one of his best traits allows him to do so. One of his main strengths is his aerial ability. Even though Browne is only listed at 5’8, he has a great sense of timing in the air and he always gets himself in a good position to win the ball. Since he times his leaps so well, he averages just under two aerial wins per game according to whoscored.com. That is an impressive mark since Preston are often defending on the ground, and the matches in the Championship don’t offer too many aerial duels. In fact, Browne’s latest goal for Preston was an impressive header in the box. Browne used his great timing and position in the box to leap as high as he could, and while the ball was floating in the air, he met it with his head and scored a great header. The goal showed just how good Browne is in the air despite not being all that tall, since he used his timing, positioning and leaping ability to score the winning goal in the match. This goal wasn’t a one-time thing for Browne, as he scored a similar goal last season against Chesterfield. For that goal, he rose up in the air, and he timed his header perfectly and sent the ball into the back of the net.
Besides being very good in the air, another trait that Browne possesses is his terrific work rate on the pitch, while also having great stamina that allows him to work as hard as he does. Browne constantly covers for the full-backs, and he’s often deep into Preston’s half of the pitch. He’s also in the box a lot as well, using his aerial ability to head away crosses from counter attacks. His workrate is ideal for a central midfielder like Browne because it allows him to contribute in the attack, and in the defense. Besides his quality, his workrate and attitude helps Preston tremendously, and his attitude helped Preston have the mentality that allowed them to gain promotion last season.
Another strength that Browne has is his ability to tackle. He often tackles the opposition in the midfield, and according to whoscored.com, he averages almost two tackles per game. That is a good total for a player who attacks just as much as he defends like Browne does. His tackling ability helps Preston stop the opponent’s attacks and start counters of their own. Without his tackling in the midfield, it would be very hard for Preston to defend the opposition. And even though the Irish midfielder tackles a lot, he only has one card to his name this season. His composure in the tackle is what makes him such a good tackler, as he rarely fouls the opposition.
Even though Browne has a lot of great qualities, he still has weaknesses that he needs to fix. His main weakness is his passing ability in the midfield, as his passing percentage sits at only 73 percent. While that doesn’t look too bad, he plays in the championship, where he has a lot more time on the ball than he would in the Premier League. Browne also isn’t passing the ball down the field and attempting through balls. Browne needs to become a better passer to be able to deal with the pressure the Premier League teams can put on the midfield players. Additionally, getting better on the ball will help Browne’s offensive game, and it will help him pick up more assists, or get amongst the goals even more.
Besides his passing ability, another weakness that Browne has is that he is an inconsistent player for Preston. The former Cork midfielder can sometimes be a star in the midfield like he was against Huddersfield Town, where he was brilliant. However, Browne also has games where he doesn’t have much of an impact on the match. for example, the match against Ipswich Town, in which he didn’t do much for Preston, and gave the ball away too often. Despite the fact that Browne has been inconsistent, he has been one of Preston’s better players for a large part of the season. As Browne develops and grows as a player, he’ll become a much more consistent threat for Preston. A terrific young midfielder, the Irishman is truly one to watch in the Championship.
As Browne continues to be one of Preston’s most important players, he has a very bright future ahead of him. Premier League clubs Crystal Palace and Bournemouth were looking to sign Browne in January, but Preston stood firm and held on to him. With Premier League clubs already interested in the Irish midfielder, the next move in his career will certainly have him end up in the top division of English football. If he keeps performing for Preston, he could attract the attention of Ireland manager Martin O’Neil. O’Neil is always keen on adding young players to the squad, and if Browne keeps performing, he could turn into the next Irish midfield sensation. Browne, along with James McCarthy gives the boys in Green a very bright future in the midfield.
Written by Alex Lynch.