No break for PNE boss

Adam Reach is one of the midfield options for PNE boss Simon Grayson
Adam Reach is one of the midfield options for PNE boss Simon Grayson
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While the international break has only just started, Simon Grayson’s thoughts will already have turned to Preston North End’s return to action against Cardiff City a week on Saturday.

By the time the Bluebirds roll up at Deepdale, PNE boss Grayson will hopefully have seen his selection options increase.

He does lose loan man Eoin Doyle’s services, due to Cardiff being the striker’s parent club, while Joe Garner continues to serve a suspension.

However, Bailey Wright will be available again after a ban, provided he gets though his latest international adventure with Australia.

Paul Huntington should have shaken off a hamstring niggle too.

The fact Paul Gallagher was sat on the bench in the 3-1 loss to Sheffield Wednesday, will also serve as a boost.

Gallagher had missed all of September’s matches with a calf injury, sustained in training the day before the clash with Derby.

It was decided that a return to action from the bench, rather than being thrown straight back in, would be the sensible approach at Hillsborough.

But with Paddy McCarthy’s early injury using up one substitution, and then there being the need to replace both strikers, Gallagher had to stay sat down.

Grayson said: “I would have loved to have got Gally on to the pitch because he would have kept the ball better – especially during the first half on Saturday.

“We overturned possession too often and gave the ball away a bit cheaply at times.

“Having Gally back gives me food for thought for the game after the international break.

“It will be nice to have a few more options. We will have Bailey Wright back and I expect that Paul Huntington will be fit by then.”

A fit and ready Gallagher is just what North End need as they look to secure a foothold in the Championship.

It will be interesting to see the shape of the midfield when the action resumes.

At the weekend, the four on duty were Adam Reach, John Welsh, Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson.

Now they have Gallagher to add to the mix.

So who starts? Reach gives them the width which has long been desired.

Browne has caught the eye since returning the side last month and the youngster was arguably Preston’s best performer at the weekend.

Johnson’s record of five goals from the engine room this season tells it own story.

Although it was a Welsh error which led to the Owls’ second goal, he is needed in a holding role.

Plenty there for Grayson to mull over, with Neil Kilkenny and Josh Brownhill other options for the middle.

Kilkenny was an unused substitute at the weekend, Brownhill making the trip but missing out of the matchday 18 as Josh Heaton was needed to give some defensive cover.

The international break will offer the opportunity to combine some work on the Springfields training pitch with a chance to rest the legs.

It has been a challenging few weeks for Preston – physically and mentally – with a busy fixture list and the pressure of not having won a league game since August 15.

Six games await before the next break, with all PNE eyes on a push up the table.