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'When you’re not playing it can be tough at times, you’ve got to be patient and bide your time'

Ex-League of Ireland defenders Andy Boyle and Kevin O’Connor both made their first league appearances of the season for Preston North End last night.

Boyle's only other appearance this season was in the EFL Cup.
Boyle's only other appearance this season was in the EFL Cup.
Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/PA Images

LAST NIGHT’S CHAMPIONSHIP meeting between Preston North End and Aston Villa saw a total of eight Irish players feature at Deepdale.

The home side started Sean Maguire on the left flank, with Alan Browne in the centre of the park and Andy Boyle named at centre-half, while Daryl Horgan and Kevin O’Connor were both introduced as second-half substitutes.

Meanwhile, Glenn Whelan partnered Conor Hourihane in the Villa midfield and there was also a 20-minute cameo from Scott Hogan as the visitors claimed a 2-0 victory.

Despite the result, it was a pleasing night for ex-Dundalk defender Boyle as he made his first league appearance of the season — completing the full 90 minutes.

After an encouraging start to life at Preston under Simon Grayson last term — when he played seven times upon his mid-season arrival with Horgan — the 26-year-old has had to wait for an opportunity from new boss Alex Neil.

“When you’re not playing it can be tough at times, you’ve got to be patient, bide your time and wait for an opportunity and a chance to go out and play,” Boyle admitted, in an interview with the club’s website.

“The lads that have been playing have been brilliant and had such a good start as well. I’ve no complaints in that sense but it’s still tough at times.

It’s patience that you’ve got to show and when you get your chance you’ve got to go out and prove, hopefully stake a claim for future games.

“That’s the way I have to look at it, when you get your chance you have to make sure you grasp it with both hands. It’s been a long time coming but as I say, you can’t really complain because we’ve done so well.

“I just want to go in and hopefully play as many games as I can and as well as I can – every time the manager picks his team hopefully I’m in his thoughts.”

Preston North End v Burnley - Pre-Season Friendly - Deepdale Kevin O'Connor came on to make his league debut. Source: Martin Rickett

Full-back O’Connor, who joined with Cork City team-mate Maguire in July, came on just after half-time to make his competitive debut for North End. With Browne dropping back into defence after injuries to Josh Earl and Calum Woods, they finished with three Irishmen in the back four.

“I suppose we could all understand each other anyway!” Boyle joked. “I thought the lads that came in did really well, it was difficult with two changes in the back line at half time, it’s not easy.

We kept a clean sheet second half, we defended okay and we were probably the better side really, second half.

“It’s funny how football changes so quickly, a couple of weeks ago, obviously not playing and being out of it a bit – then coming in and being one of the senior members of the back line.

“I just tried to prepare the best that I could be and when you’re not playing it’s important that you stay fit, stay ready and be ready to come into the game.”

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