Conor backs Tyler for his big chance

Tyler Forbes
Tyler Forbes
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Conor McLaughlin believes his young understudy will be raring to go when Preston North End visit Highbury at the weekend.

Fleetwood defender McLaughlin will miss the derby clash with his former club as he is on international duty with Northern Ireland.

McLaughlin remained on the bench for last night’s 1-0 friendly defeat against Scotland but will hope to feature against Finland at Windsor Park on Sunday – that Euro 2016 qualifier kicks off in Belfast just before Fleetwood’s game begins.

Likely to take his place at right-back for the televised League One clash is 19-year-old Tyler Forbes, who began his career in the youth ranks at Deepdale, just like McLaughlin.

Forbes started as a right- sided wing-back in the draw at Bradford on Saturday, when manager Graham Alexander admitted the change of system had given him “food for thought”.

And McLaughlin knows just how excited Town’s rising star will be should he get the chance to play in front of a full house and the Sky Sports cameras.

“Young Tyler was at Preston too,” said McLaughlin. “If he gets the shirt, I’m sure he’ll be buzzing.

“He’ll really be looking forward to it, having been at Preston for a while. I’m sure he’ll do well.

“It’s a hard one for me to miss, but it’s unbelievable to be called up again and a great opportunity for somebody else.”

Forbes, part of the Preston North End youth set-up under Alexander and Chris Lucketti, was signed last season and thrown into Town’s fledgling development squad.

His hard work earned the teenager a call-up to the first-team, making his first start in the 1-0 victory at Yeovil in October. Forbes put in a composed display, despite having to deal with the death of his mother earlier that week.

McLaughlin joined Fleetwood three years ago following their promotion to the Football League.

He made the move from Preston to Highbury hoping to restart a career brought to a crashing halt by a serious knee injury.

Under Graham Alexander, he has become Town’s first choice right-back amd a regular for Northern Ireland in their Euro 2016 qualifiers, winning six caps to date.

The 23-year-old was last season’s player of the year at Highbury.

And he admits few would have seen this fixture on the cards during his formative years at Deepdale.

“I don’t think many people would have seen this day coming a few years ago,” said McLaughlin.

“But especially after the first game at Deepdale (which Town lost 3-2 after going two up), all the lads will be up for getting a bit of revenge.”

A second-half hat-trick by Joe Garner turned that October clash around for the Lilywhites, who will arrive at Highbury this weekend well placed for an automatic promotion spot.