Preston manager Alex Neil hailed Sepp van den Berg’s versatility after the on-loan defender enjoyed his first Championship start on Wednesday night.
Van den Berg, 19, moved to Deepdale as part of the deal that saw Ben Davies join Liverpool last month. He penned a six-month contract with the Lilywhites and made his debut against Rotherham United on February 6.
The Netherlands Under-19 star played the final 18 minutes of that 2-1 loss. But he played the full 90 minutes as PNE drew 0-0 with Queens Park Rangers.
Van den Berg’s preferred position is centre-back but he was deployed on the right-side of the North End defence. He put on an assured all-round display, making plenty of tackles and playing some accurate long balls, according to Lancs Live.
Neil was impressed and felt he adapted well to the challenge of operating in an unfamiliar role.
Asked how he felt the youngster played, Neil replied: “Excellent, to be fair we did play our right and left back in a certain way in terms of keeping them in, they weren’t as expansive.
“We know Sepp is very good on the ball, he’s quick and gives us good size in terms of defending crosses into the box. I thought he had a really good performance for his first game, really strong.”
The Scottish tactician now hopes he can maintain an upward curve over the rest of the campaign.
“Defensively he was strong, on the ball he was strong and got his distances right – he’s a good player and with your first game at any club, you always want to set a marker down,” he added.
“I think tonight a lot of fans will look at him and hope that he can continue that because I thought he was very good.”
Youngster happy with first start
Despite his tender years, Van den Berg does have experience of top-flight football. He made 23 appearances for Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle before joining Liverpool in the summer of 2019.
The Dutchman is certainly one for the future at Anfield but may get a chance next term if he continues to shine. Jurgen Klopp will be watching his progress and be pleased to learn of an outstanding full debut.
And Van den Berg is looking to push on with Preston in whatever position his boss wants.
“I’m happy to make my full debut today and right-back, it’s something different than I’m used to, but I’m happy with my performance and hopefully I can play a lot more games,” he told iFollow PNE after the game.
“I’ve played there a little bit when I was in Holland, but mainly I’m a centre back, but I can play there as well so I’m available.”
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