Sean Gregan’s exclusive column

Jermaine Beckford tangles with Queens Park Rangers' Karl Henry inside the penalty area
Jermaine Beckford tangles with Queens Park Rangers' Karl Henry inside the penalty area
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Another late goal from Eoin Doyle saw Preston North End earn a late draw against Queens Park Rangers.

The lad scored the winner late on at Bolton last week and was in the right place to head the equaliser in stoppage-time on Saturday.

To be scoring late goals, and there have been a few in the last couple of months, tells me that the fitness levels at the club must be decent.

When players are doing all that hard work in pre-season, it pays off when a few months later, you can go and dig out a late equaliser or winner.

Doyle seems to have found a bit of form in front of goal and that will have given his confidence a boost.

Strikers get judged on their goals, however hard they work on other aspects of their game, so he will have enjoyed the last two games.

It was a good header for the goal, Doyle getting plenty of power and good direction on the ball to send it past the QPR goalkeeper.

You wonder what might happen in the summer with Doyle when his loan spell ends.

If he scores a few more over the next month or so, will North End be tempted to try and sign him permanently?

It might be that they have other irons in the fire when it comes to strengthening the forward line for next season.

A big talking point from the QPR game was the return of Jermaine Beckford to the North End bench.

He has been out for six months but looks like the type of player who could get his sharpness back quite quickly.

After all those goals last season, including six in the three play-off games, we were all looking forward to seeing what Beckford could do in the Championship.

No doubt Simon Grayson was planning on having Joe Garner and Beckford as his main strike force but had to re-think his plans.

However well North End have done this season, you cannot deny that Beckford has been a big miss.

His return is being handled very sensibly by Grayson and his coaching staff.

When a big player is on his way back from injury, there will always be the temptation there to throw him back in straight away.

But a few minutes as a sub for Beckford against QPR was a good introduction, a chance to feel the grass under his boots again and get a bit of work into his legs.

He will be able to get plenty more work done in training over the next couple of weeks without the pressure of a game to come.

When the matches resume after the international break, Beckford will be able to get more minutes and steadily build up.

What he does over the last few weeks of the season will be getting him ready for next term.

When players are coming back from a long-term injury, it is often little niggles which you have to watch for, rather than the initial problem.

We have a lad at Darlington who came back from a year out with a torn cruciate.

He went on loan to a club in the division below to get some games under his belt and straight away pulled his groin.

Talking about Darlington, where I’m on the coaching staff, we had a very late finish to our game at Stamford last Tuesday night.

It is a long journey at the best of times and some of our lads couldn’t finish work until 3.30pm so had to travel down separately on a mini-bus.

There was a big hold-up on the A1 and in the end we did not kick-off until 8.30pm! The joys of non-league eh?