Liam Lindsay has already made Preston a home where he can finally fulfil his potential


Alex Neil’s side set up in a perfect tactical structure, with their gameplan to compact Blackburn into the midfield areas working a treat.

Ched Evans showed just how important his off the ball talents are to a team who are looking to implement a well-organised gameplan, but it was Liam Lindsay who came out of this one in most people’s minds.

Lindsay is now 25-years-old, yet he is still without a Scotland national team cap.

His earlier days at Partick Thistle saw him touted as one the best youth products the country has had in defence for many a year, particularly with the central defensive area always being a weak point in the modern era for the nation.

The Scotsman signed a two-year full-time trainee contract for Thistle in 2012 following a number of impressive performances in the under-17 ranks for the club. His stature and composure in defensive phases stood out amongst the rest of his teammates.

Progression for the Glasgow-born defender only continued from there and his breakthrough season came in 2014/15.

A loan to Alloa Athletic of the Scottish League One at the time wet the appetite for first team football when securing an impressive string of ten starts in a short-term spell, putting him in the eye of Partick’s staff.

Reserve football gave him the platform to showcase his ability and he built a commanding partnership with Jack Hendry in that side, now on loan at Belgian club K.V. Oostende following his move from Celtic.

Then first team manager Alan Archibald saw an injury crisis force him to call upon reinforcements and from there Lindsay never looked back.

A composed performance against Dundee United in a vital fixture at the bottom end of the table struck of one seen by an experienced, well-travelled professional, not a young boy making his first steps in his career.

That trajectory only continued as another loan spell, this time at Aidrieonians of the same division as Alloa, cemented his place as the top young talent at Partick.

64 appearances and seven goals later his time at Thistle had come to an end.

Lindsay, in the space of a mere 18 months, went from a relative unknown quantity, having never featured for the Scottish youth setup, to someone many were touting to represent the main national side not too long in the distant future.

Celtic and Rangers were seen as the destinations on many people’s lips, with a clear path to the Scotland national team, but neither were willing to pay the Partick Thistle asking price as they held out knowing interest from England was around.

And that tact paid off with Lindsay turning down a move to Oxford United, before signing a three-year contract with Championship side Barnsley.

Momentum that had continued to keep pace since his first forays into first team football, allowed him to flourish as soon as he stepped on the Oakwell turf.

Making his debut for the club at the end of August 2017, by November there was a large clamour for him to be part of the next Scotland international camp, under the temporary charge of Malky Mackay following Gordon Strachan’s resignation months earlier.

Yet the cap that so many expected to be a formality never arose.

Despite a host of uncapped players making his one and only international squad, Mackay elected for the likes of Hibernian’s Paul Hanlon and Leeds’ Liam Cooper ahead of Lindsay, to the surprise of many.

From that point until the end of the season, the Tykes saw a run of poor form that ended in their relegation from the Championship after a 4-1 loss to Derby County on the final day. Albeit Lindsay was free from any real scrutiny in the debrief.

The central defender stuck around for the club’s League One campaign under Daniel Stendel the following season, forming a tough partnership with Ethan Pinnock that saw the club own the best defensive record out of the entire 72 EFL clubs.

39 goals conceded and 21 clean sheets saw the team ease to second place and a first time return to the Championship.

Within that campaign it was clear that it would be hard for Barnsley to keep hold of the Scottish talent and that quickly became the case as Stoke completed their move for Lindsay for a £2 million fee in the summer of 2019.

His early stages at Stoke saw him become a mainstay in their backline, but form fell off a cliff and Michael O’Neill was brought in to replace Nathan Jones as the side sat bottom of the table.

O’Neill fancied a clean slate and after bringing in James Chester in January 2020, the remainder of the season and the start of the current campaign saw Lindsay fall out of favour with the Potters.

This was his first real setback in a career that so far has been increasingly on the up from the start.

Lindsay has always shown himself to be a commanding figure, with a defence-first mantra. However, it is his intelligence in his interceptive play and composure on the ball that has enabled him to forge a career moving from the third division in Scotland to the Championship in England.

It is clear to most that the defender should by now have been given a place in the Scottish national side and that realistically his poor end to his time at Stoke is more through circumstances out of his hands, than through his performances themselves.

And in Alex Neil and Preston he has a club that will appreciate him for what he is.

Ben Davies is a major loss to North End but Lindsay will provide that leadership and intelligence to at least fill some of the void left by the now-Liverpool man.

Whilst his debut ended in defeat, his performance at Blackburn, a man of the match one were it not for Ched Evans, showcased exactly why Preston sought him out as an immediate replacement.

Lancashire is somewhere Lindsay will fit in well and in Neil he has a coach who understands his game and can bring him on to the level he has always been destined to play at, given Neil’s time at Hamilton in Scotland.

This loan spell will no doubt end with North End trying to make things permanent, particularly with his left-footed nature being another asset to his game, and quite frankly they will have a battle on their hands with interest inevitably being high as he gets games under his belt again.

Lindsay has years to go in his career and he has all the facets to his game to play at whatever level he sees fit.

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