If you’re not yet familiar with the name Josh Brownhill then tonight might change all of that while tomorrow it may be the only name you see on newsstands.

Preston North End’s teenage sensation is fast carving out a reputation as being one of the most exciting prospects in League One, a midfielder with two quick feet, nuanced vision, and a free-kick in his locker that can make a nun swear blind. Check out this screamer against Burnley in pre-season.

This evening he tests his blossoming talents against Rooney, Falcao and co as Manchester United make the short trip up the M61 in the kind of FA Cup pairing that has the cliché-mongerers wax lyrical about magic. For once they’re right.

The clash has an even bigger resonance with Brownhill as he came through the ranks at United before being released. There are two ways to deal with such a blow. In Brownhill’s case he chose to drop down a couple of divisions and confirm beyond question his quality and character, to such an extent that his former club have reportedly shown interest in buying him back.

We caught up with the Deepdale prodigy prior to the biggest game so far in a career that will surely have many more.

The Cutter: As a dyed-in-the-wool Manchester City fan how did it feel to put on a United shirt as a junior?

Josh, who is represented by Cassius Sports: It was tough due to being a blue but when you’re young you just want to put on a football kit and I didn’t really care at the time.

Was there anyone in your age group who was obviously going to break into the first team set-up?

James Wilson stood out. He was always so fast and tricky and scored loads of goals. He played an age above himself and always produced so it was no surprise when I saw him on his debut and he scored a couple.

And now you’re facing him and United in the FA Cup fifth round. Since you got past the Blades in the previous round to confirm the tie how many times have you imagined blasting home a thirty yarder to secure a famous victory?

A million times! Especially as all my family and friends are all City fans so it would be a dream to stick one on them with a last minute winner.

Has the manager talked to you all about how to prepare for such a game as this? About the possibility of being over-awed by the occasion.

He has and so have some of the more experienced lads. We know we’ve got to be on our game or it could be an easy ride for United. If we’re up for it we can give them a tough game. We can’t make it easy for them.

Has he instructed you not to swap shirts?

There’s been nothing about swapping shirts. On the day we’ll see what happens. It will be good for me being young to get one of the big-name players like Wayne Rooney, the captain of England.

Should you win on Monday it will be a momentous occasion for everyone connected to the club. But is there a danger a cup run might prove a distraction from your promotion effort?

It will be a great day for the club and for the fans as we’re hosting Manchester United at Deepdale but the main goal for us is getting promoted. It’s what the fans want and if we had the choice of winning the FA Cup or going up we’d take promotion. The club deserves to be in the Championship.

Several Premier League clubs are presently monitoring you. How does that impact upon you? Do you think about it at all? Does it have any effect – good or bad – on your performances?

Not really. It’s good to be spoken about by some Premier League clubs as it just gives you even more motivation to do well. I want to show everyone my ability and what I can do.

Is it true you give up your summers to attend training camps?

My agent runs a camp and every year he ensures we go into pre-season flying. We get really fit so we can go back and smash it. It helped me a lot this pre-season as I scored a lot of goals.

You just eat sleep and breathe football don’t you. When was the last time you spent a week just slobbing around on the sofa watching telly?

(laughs) I haven’t I don’t think. It was certainly a while ago. It’s the dedication you’ve got to give to football if you want to make it to the top.

You’re a free-kick specialist – rather like another former United youth who played for Preston. How much of that comes from the training ground and how much is simply natural aptitude?

A lot of practise goes into that. I stay behind all the time until the gaffer says I have to come in. I want to know when there’s a dead-ball around the area we can be putting it in the net.

How would you describe your playing style and your particular strengths?

I like to get on the ball, pass it, two touch, create chances, and score goals when I can. My strengths are going forward and keeping possession.

Is there one player you look to for inspiration?

I’d probably say David Silva. He’s a little magician. The things he does sometimes is just crazy, keeping the ball somehow and creating so many assists. It’s good to look up to people like that.

What do you hope to achieve in football?

I hope to play in the Premier League. That’s my goal. Playing against David Silva and all the top teams like Chelsea, City, United and Arsenal. You’re up against the top players in the world.

So tonight will be one hell of an audition?

Yeah it will. It’s going to be hard for us because it’s United but it’s a chance for me to see how far away I am from that level. Whether it is impossible or possible.

For me I like to think it’s possible.

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