PNE skipper in line to return

John Welsh may return to the PNE side tonight after injury
John Welsh may return to the PNE side tonight after injury
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Preston North End will look to go into the international break on the back of a fourth successive win and with a place in the next round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the bag.

They host Port Vale at Deepdale tonight (7.45pm) in the JPT, a place in the last eight of the Northern section the prize for the winners.

PNE’s selection options will be somewhat limited by international call-ups and injuries.

Alan Browne, Scott Wiseman, Callum Robinson and Will Hayhurst are away with their countries.

Browne and Wiseman were both starters in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Colchester, with Robinson joining the action as a second-half substitute.

Calum Woods, Kevin Davies and ex-Vale striker Jordan Hugill remain sidelined.

However, there could be a return for club skipper John Welsh after injury, the midfielder’s last appearance coming in the previous round against Shrewsbury.

North End assistant boss Glynn Snodin says the absences will open the door for others in the squad to stake their claim.

And he thinks they should follow the lead of left-back David Buchanan, who played his first game of the season in the previous round and has stayed in the team ever since.

Snodin told the Evening Post: “Our squad has got some good depth to it and the lads have been fantastic while waiting for their chance.

“Look at David Buchanan. He waited quite a while to get into the side but has kept hold of the shirt since forcing his way in.

“I thought he was absolutely superb on Saturday. The lad is a leader on the pitch and a leader off it. We keep telling the players that a team evolves as a season goes on.

“It is difficult to tell lads that when they are out of the team because a week must seem like a month when they are not playing.

“A season is 10 months long and everyone will be needed at some stage.”

The pressure on numbers is slightly lessened in the JPT, with only five subs permitted in the competition.

Vale are PNE’s opponents for consecutive games – they also visit Deepdale a week on Saturday in League One.

They are currently under the caretaker leadership of Rob Page after the resignation of Micky Adams last month.

Said Snodin: “We’ve had a good look at Vale to see if they are different under Rob to how they were with Micky.

“They have some good players in their squad and Tom Pope up front is 
strong.

“If we get our act together we don’t fear anyone. We want to get to Wembley and are taking this seriously.

“Hopefully we can make it a bit easier for ourselves than we did against Colchester at the weekend.

“The Crawley and Coventry performances were fantastic from our point of view, both attacking-wise and defensively.

“Saturday was completely different but you are going to get games like that.”

Admission tonight is £5 for adults and £1 for Under-16s, with cash turnstiles available in the Sir Tom Finney Stand and Alan Kelly Town End.