O'Hanlon stays steady at Preston

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The Independent Football

Kelham O'Hanlon is ready and willing to come out of David Moyes' shadow and take Preston North End towards their promotion dream.

Moyes' former No 2 has stayed behind at Deepdale, taking caretaker charge of the First Division team along with the coach, Jimmy Lumsden. His future is in doubt after a traumatic week for the play-off chasers. That is a surprise to many, probably including the man himself but, like the goalkeeper he was, O'Hanlon is prepared to come out quickly and grab the opportunity with both hands. A move to Everton in the future is the last thing on his mind.

There cannot be a better man for the job right now than the one who stood at Moyes' side during Preston's rise to glory, and he said: "I won't do things any differently. I've just got to pick the team and tinker a bit with one or two things. But basically we've got a well-oiled machine here. The players have been here all along and know their jobs.

"It's been a funny few days, but all I have in mind now is Burnley. I'm glad it's such a big match because it helps everyone to focus. There will be no need to do too much for this one. It's just a case of same again and keep things going on Sunday."

O'Hanlon gave his players a "nothing changes" speech yesterday and will be in charge for the time being, although a queue of candidates has formed for an attractive post. Some have even called him to put their names in, but O'Hanlon could yet become the full-time successor.

The timing of Moyes' departure is bad for Preston, but O'Hanlon is happy to take up where his friend left off. He said: "We go back a long way, we played together and lived to tell the tale. I'm not surprised he's gone, Everton is not a job you can turn down.

"I don't know what the various agendas are elsewhere at the moment, all I am worrying about is getting the right result in the derby."

O'Hanlon has been at Preston for a decade, signed by the route-one tactical guru John Beck mainly because of his ability to belt the ball miles. Born in Middlesbrough, but a Republic of Ireland international, he has been close to Moyes for years, but is now left on his own by one of the game's quirks of fate.

O'Hanlon has played under more studious managers than Beck, with Malcolm Allison and Jack Charlton early influences, but like Moyes he has come up on a learning curve that takes in some of football's more obscure places. If early results go well, Preston may be content to let him see the job through.

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