Dave Seddon’s pressview

Calum Woods

Calum Woods

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Calum Woods is one of those players who has tended to stay under the radar.

Every club needs his type, a versatile steady-Eddie who might not necessarily make the headlines but is invaluable to his manager.

The positive reaction which Preston supporters gave to Woods signing a new contract during the week, suggests that he is now showing up more clearly on the radar.

Nine successive starts in the Lilywhites defence is the reason for the higher profile.

While before, the likeable Scouser might have been seen as someone to fill in when injuries and suspension hit, it would be hard to see him dropping out of North End’s side on current form.

Six clean sheets in a row do not come about by accident, a run like that does not allow for a weak link.

Every credit then, for the way Woods has slotted in and nailed down a place.

It is not just one position he has filled over the last few weeks, it is three.

Against Cardiff just over a month ago, Woods started at right-back.

When Tom Clarke went off injured in that game, into the middle went Woods.

He stayed there as part of a three-man defence, for the meetings with Charlton, Brighton, Bolton, Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers.

A quarter of an hour into the QPR clash, Woods shifted over to play at left-back as Simon Grayson reorganised into a back four.

There was no need to break out in a cold sweat at the thought of him playing on the left.

After all, it was that role which Woods operated in to good effect at Wembley in the play-off final.

Let us remind ourselves that he had also played at left-back against Sheffield United at the start of February – the FA Cup replay which arguably proved to be a turning point in North End’s 2014/15 campaign.

In and out of the team after that – and mainly out – his return to the starting XI could not have been timed better.

Woods got back in for the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Chesterfield and stayed there for Wembley.

Earlier this season, had we looked into the future and seen Woods as a regular fixture, many of us would probably have been surprised.

Maybe a good option for the bench now and then, versatile cover for the defence.

Doors can open in football though, when it isn’t necessarily expected.

In some ways – although not in its entirety – you can draw a comparison between Woods of late and Paul Huntington’s situation last season.

It was not until October 21 last season, that Huntington got to pull on a Preston shirt in league action.

His chance that night had only come about through injury and illness to other defenders.

On Monday night, 13 months after his return to the side, a suited-and-booted Huntington was smiling for the cameras after winning League One Player of the Year at the North West Football Awards.

In the intervening period, he had won PNE’s player of the year gong and scored at Wembley.

How the North End defence is shaped today against Blackburn, we will see when the team sheet is published.

If Greg Cunningham and skipper Tom Clarke are fit, do they go straight back in or wait their turn?

Six straight clean sheets would suggest they might have to wait.

That said, Cunningham only missed the QPR game and has been a picture of consistency this season.

Clarke has been out for longer, five games in all, so perhaps could have more to do to get his place back.

The clash with Rovers this afternoon signals a resumption of action after the international break.

I do find the fortnight’s gap between games rather tedious and this being the third break this season, has meant the campaign has had a rather fractured nature to it.

My fix of football this time last week was an under-7s friendly, played indoors after rain washed away the fixture list at Penwortham Holme.

What a place Penny Holme is on a Saturday, with upwards of 40 games being played during the morning.

It is grassroots football at its best, kids getting their first taste of a competitive game while dads like myself, metaphorically kick every ball on the touchline!

Managers display the patience of saints as they get six and seven-years-olds to follow a few instructions.

And the ice cream van must make an absolute fortune as goals and graft are rewarded!