Tom Clarke’s long road back to fitness has started after the Preston skipper underwent surgery to repair his damaged Achilles tendon.
Clarke had the operation yesterday and a full recovery will take between eight and 10 months.
The defender ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg early in last Friday’s clash with former club Huddersfield.
With Greg Cunningham fracturing his leg three days later against Norwich, it made for a double blow for PNE.
North End manager Simon Grayson said: “Tom has been down south with one of the top specialists in the country.
“It was in and out on the day and in a few more days he will be back at the training ground to start his rehab.
“We got him in early for the operation, got it sorted very quickly to give him the chance to be back playing as soon as possible in the circumstances.
“It is disappointing that Tom and Greg have suffered these injuries and everyone here is devastated for them.
“Greg’s injury is short-term in that, while it will rule him out for the season, halfway through the close season he should be fully healed.
“Tom will be a lot longer – months rather than weeks.
“Our physio Matt Jackson will look after him and make sure he comes back fitter and stronger.”
Clarke has experienced a long-term injury, having torn his cruciate ligament when a Huddersfield player.
Grayson thinks that will help the 29-year-old come to terms with the current lay-off.
“Tom is a good pro, he will do everything that is required to get back,” said Grayson.
“It is a long road back but he has been there before with his cruciate injury.
“He has mates here, Calum Woods and Stevie May, who have had long-term injuries in the last couple of years and have come back.
“I think back to my time as manager of Leeds when Paddy Kisnorbo did his Achilles.
“Paddy was out for some considerable time but got back playing – Tom will be the same.
“The frustrating thing was that he wasn’t kicked to get the injury.
“He just pushed off to move towards the ball and all the tendons came away.”
Next season, Clarke will stay around the squad as much as possible.
“He is a vocal character, which you would expect with him being skipper,” Grayson said.
“Once a certain stage of his recovery is done, he will be in and around us, going to games with us.
“He might go to games with the coaching staff a couple of times, see the game from that side of things.
“Tom will support the lads and they will be supporting him as he recovers.”