PNE duo ready for Scunny trip

PNE skipper Tom Clarke, pictured bandaged up at Rochdale on Tuesday
PNE skipper Tom Clarke, pictured bandaged up at Rochdale on Tuesday
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Captain Tom Clarke and star striker Joe Garner are expected to be fit to take their place in the Preston squad for Saturday’s trip to Scunthorpe.

North End boss Simon Grayson rested Garner on Tuesday night in the 2-0 Capital One Cup win over Rochdale at Spotland.

Last season’s leading goalscorer picked up a slight knock to his knee the previous weekend in the 1-1 draw against Notts County at Deepdale.

It is understood that the injury to Garner – who scored the equaliser against the Magpies on the opening day of the season – is not serious.

And had the midweek match against Dale been a League One fixture, he would have taken his place in PNE’s attack.

Grayson was at pains to stress after the game that Garner’s omission was not an elaborate ploy to prevent him from being cup tied ahead of a big-money move to another club.

The PNE boss reiterated his desire to keep hold of Garner and is confident the boyhood Preston fan will commit his long-term future to the club.

He said: “I keep saying this all the time but Joe Garner is not going anywhere and will be with us until the end of the season.”

Clarke was in the wars at Spotland after becoming embroiled in a physical contest with Dale striker Calvin Andrew.

He spent a period off the pitch in the first half to stem the flow of blood after a head injury and came out for the second period heavily bandaged.

The former Huddersfield man was able to finish the game without any problems and should be ready to lead the team out again at Glanford Park this weekend.

“Tom had a few knocks on Tuesday night to be fair,” Grayson said. “He suffered a cut near his eye and another on his head but he’s a warrior and nothing can keep Tom out of the team if he’s physically capable of playing.

“He managed to carry on and play the full game and will be stitched-up ready for Saturday.”

Grayson was an interested spectator yesterday afternoon as North End met Blackburn Rovers in a behind-closed-doors friendly.

The manager used the opportunity to give many members of his squad, who had not featured in the first two games of the season, a run out. There were starts for Scott Laird, Keith Keane, Paul Huntington and David Buchanan.

The quartet have not made the matchday squad yet this season. There were also starts for Thorsten Stuckmann, Jack King, John Welsh and Scott Wiseman, who have also yet to taste any action despite making the bench in the first two games.

“The players that played Blackburn would probably make it into most League One teams,” Grayson said. “They needed some game-time and we need them ready and fit.”

Meanwhile, North End’s reward for their victory over Rochdale in the Capital One Cup is an away tie against Championship outfit Middllesbrough.