Preston North End youngster Conor McLaughlin has become the latest Youth team product to sign professional terms at Deepdale after signing a two-and-a-half year deal with the Club.
A Northern Ireland U20 international, the young fullback has been in impressive form for North End’s Youth and Reserve sides and was an unused substitute in the Carling Cup fixture against Spurs earlier in the season.
Speaking to the Club’s website after signing the deal, McLaughlin said:
“They brought me into the office and let me know the news and I was so happy, I rang my Dad straight away and he was over the moon but the hard work starts now.”
“The first year I’ll have to work hard and then push on in my second year. I think I can improve my defending and if I can do that I can push on and can and improve my attacking side and if I put them together hopefully I’ll get my chance.”
McLaughlin is one of several Youth team prospects who have been training with Darren Ferguson’s first team squad recently and he admitted that every day is a learning curve:
“Training has been harder in the first team so I’ll only improve and if I keep training every day I’ll get sharper and I’ll get my chance,” said the youngster.
“Since a few of us were on the bench against Tottenham we just wanted to get a few more on the bench again and hopefully get there.”
“I hope there’ll be more people given pro contracts, everyone has a chance and it’s up to them to prove themselves again and there’s nothing bigger than Sunderland away.”
“It’s a lot more physical at first team level and you have to be stronger, you only get about two touches on the ball so you have to be sharper and quicker and the players are quicker as well and you have to build yourself to that level.”
“As soon as me and all the Irish lads came here the main goal was to get into the first team but not many make it so you have to have a bit of luck so hopefully one day I’ll pull on the white shirt.”
With fellow youth graduate Danny Mayor making his first team debut for the Lilywhites in the weekend trip to Bristol City, Director of Youth Dean Ramsdale will be encouraged that McLaughlin has the potential to follow his lead in to the first team squad on a permanent basis.
“He’s trained a couple of times already with the first team and the feedback is again very good,” said Ramsdale.
“Conor’s a good footballer and what we’ve tried to do is produce good footballers and that comes down to recruitment, time on the training ground and them having the willingness to learn, and he has a great willingness to learn.”
“He’s great on the ball going forward, he can defend, he’s patient and he’s got that little bit of grittiness that you need to be a full-back. He’s athletic, got a great engine and he’s given a lot in the Youths and Reserves going forward and hopefully he can use those strengths pick up a bit of nous and mentality from being around the first team players and for me that’s another part of his development.”