More options for PNE

Greg Cunningham injured his hamstring against Ipswich
Greg Cunningham injured his hamstring against Ipswich
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Preston North End resume action this weekend against Derby with increased firepower and hopefully an additional option at left-back.

Much focus will be trained on new strikers Stevie May and Eoin Doyle who are in line for debuts after signing ahead of last week’s transfer deadline.

Another boost to the selection options could come from Greg Cunningham.

He missed the Watford and Hull matches after limping out of the home defeat to Ipswich three weeks ago with a pulled hamstring.

Derby’s visit to Deepdale was always pencilled in as a possible return date for Cunningham.

The former Bristol City man had made a decent start to his time at Preston, earning a recall to the Republic of Ireland squad.

But the damaged hamstring put paid to Cunningham resuming his international career.

Strike pair May and Doyle have enjoyed an extended settling-in period over the past week or so.

Fans will be interested to see how they are fitted into the team and whether it is a case of both or just one of them initially joining Joe Garner in the starting XI.

North End first-team coach Steve Thompson says the more striking options available, the stronger the side can get.

Thompson told the Evening Post: “We have brought the two lads in for competition.

“It helps Garns and Will Keane up there now that we have got Stevie and Eoin.

“Having those options keeps the side and bench strong.

“If you can change your shape from the bench and keep things fresh, you can only benefit.

“The big difference in this league is that sides will take their chances against you.

“We saw that when we played Ipswich and Hull, in the final third they were clinical.

“That is what we are striving for, to take our chances when they come along.”

North End will have four players back from international duty in time for the weekend.

Jordan Pickford, Bailey Wright, Chris Humphrey and Alan Browne have been away.

Pickford and Browne had only a small amount of travelling to do during their time with the England and Republic of Ireland Under-21s squads respectively.

But Wright and Humphrey have been long-haul travellers and their fitness will need monitoring.

Wright played two games at the heart of Australia’s defence against Bangladesh and Tajikistan, both World Cup qualifiers won by the Socceroos.

The 5-0 win over Bangladesh was played in Perth, with Wright and his team-mates then flying to central Asia to beat Tajikistan 2-0.

Humphrey featured in both of Jamaica’s World Cup qualifiers against Nicaragua.

The winger was a sub in the Reggae Boyz’ 3-2 home defeat last Saturday, before he started their 2-0 win in the away leg which carried them through to the next qualifying stage.