Late call no problem for PNE ace Cal

Calum Woods got a late call to start Preston's draw against Ipswich because of an injury to Tom Clarke

Calum Woods got a late call to start Preston's draw against Ipswich because of an injury to Tom Clarke

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Calum Woods hopes that his preparations for Preston North End’s clash with Brentford this weekend are a touch smoother than they were at Ipswich last week.

When the team sheet went in at Portman Road, Woods was listed among the substitutes.

But 15 minutes before kick-off, an injury suffered by Tom Clarke in the warm-up meant Woods was promoted to the starting XI.

There were no obviously no complaints from the 28-year-old as to his elevation.

In an ideal world though, a bit more notice would have suited.

Woods said: “You prepare properly for every game, whether you are going to start or be on the bench.

“If you are a substitute, there is a chance you might be needed very early on if someone gets injured.

“For the Ipswich game, I had prepared in the days before to be playing. I had started the previous game at Bristol City and was hoping to be starting again.

“It was only on the afternoon of the game that we were told the team and that I was on the bench.

“Tom felt the injury right at the end of the warm-up, probably no more than 15 minutes before the kick-off.

“When I was told I would be starting instead of Clarkey, it was a case of doing a few more sprints to be properly warmed up and then just getting on with it.

“As a team we settled quickly into the game and that helped me settle in.

“It was a good game to play in, a tough one when we had to dig in during the second half.

“You know what you are going to get from Ipswich and I thought it was a good point for us.

“We won at Bristol City a few days before, so four points from six on the road is decent going.”

North End manager Simon Grayson felt the swap of Woods for Clarke was a pretty straightforward one.

Said Grayson: “It wasn’t too hard to make the change – you always have contingency plans for during games if people get injured or something isn’t working tactically.

“With this one, it was about having to make the change just before kick-off.

“It was a straight swap with Calum coming in for Tom.

“A similar thing happened on Wednesday night when Leicester played Tottenham in the FA Cup. Danny Simpson wasn’t even in the 18-man squad yet had to come in and start the game when someone got injured.

“Our substitutes warm up just as well as the lads who are going to be starting.

“As soon as we knew Tom was struggling, we got Calum to do a couple of extra runs.

“That is the professionalism of our group of players, they know they can be called on at any time.

“You know what you are going to get with Calum and he was unfortunate not to be initially in the team, given how he had played at Bristol City a few days before.

“Marnick Vermijl has also played very well there over the last few months, so we have got some strong competition in that area and can be flexible.

“If players need a rest or get an injury, we have replacements who can slot in easily.”

During the autumn, Woods had enjoyed a good run of starts before a hamstring strain suffered in the home defeat to Blackburn stalled his progress.

He was back on the bench within a couple of games but had to wait until Boxing Day at his former club Huddersfield to get some time on the pitch.

His start at Bristol City was Woods’ first since the Blackburn match.

“I came off at half-time against Blackburn after playing in quite a few of the games before that,” said Woods.

“Since then, it’s been difficult to get back in because we have good competition all over the pitch.

“You have to fight for your place and that is probably the reason why we are doing well at the moment.”

Saturday’s meeting with Brentford sees Preston return to Deepdale for the first time in three weeks.

The squad stayed down south between the Bristol City and Ipswich matches, fitting in some team bonding between training.

Said Woods: “It saved a lot of travelling doing what we did and the results we got showed it was a good idea.

“We got plenty of training done and also got out as a group – we had a meal on the Wednesday night and then went to the races the following evening.

“It was good to spend time together as a squad and staff.

“We’ve been back here in Preston this week getting ready for the Brentford game.

“Although results haven’t gone their way recently, Brentford are still a good team.

“They did well last season in reaching the play-offs and have some very good players.

“You might say that we owe them one after they beat us at their place in September.

“That day, we played quite well in the first half but just didn’t get going in the second half.

“That was disappointing and we have kicked on since then, settling into the division.

“It did us a bit of time to settle into the Championship but steadily we have got used to it.

“We have beaten some of the teams up near the top and also taken points against teams lower down, so it’s been a good mix of results.”