Preston North End midfielder Alan Browne claims he is ready to make a fresh impact after returning from a three game suspension due to a kick-out against Middlesbrough’s Sam Morsy in March.
Browne played three times for the Republic of Ireland in the midst of his ban, enduring disappointing losses to Serbia and Luxembourg before sharing the spoils with Qatar.
Since his red card, Alex Neil has given way to Frankie McAvoy in the Preston dugout, so missed games through suspension will have done little in the way of impressing his new manager.
As a result, club captain Browne had to settle for a role off the bench during their 5-0 drubbing by Brentford on Saturday, the first time he has done so in the Championship this campaign.
Browne told The Lancashire Post: “I feel a lot better for the suspension funnily enough. I feel fresh and hopefully I can use that to our advantage in the games ahead and work my way back into the team. We go to Stoke now and have a clear midweek to work on things, so no excuses.”
Stoke certainly makes a happy hunting ground for the 25-year-old midfielder who celebrates his birthday on Thursday, having netted in his last two visits. With three goals and one assist in his 33 Championship appearances this season, many feel that this is the game for a rejuvenated Browne to be eased back into the side who are enjoying a bright early spell under their new manager.
Preston sit in 16th place, six points clear of the Championship relegation zone with just five games left to play. If Browne is as rested as he claims and McAvoy is prepared to put trust into one of their strongest performers, a result at Stoke could go a long way to ensuring safety.