Welsh has a sixth sense

John Welsh in action for PNE at Brighton where he was injured last season
John Welsh in action for PNE at Brighton where he was injured last season
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John Welsh is banking on his sixth season at Preston being far better than the fifth.

The midfielder missed more than six months of last term with a serious calf injury.

A few times he got close to a return to training, only for the problem to flare up.

Welsh has spent much of the close season on a weights programme to strengthen his right leg and will be looking to start afresh when the squad report back for pre-season training on June 29.

It was in the closing stages of the 2-2 draw at Brighton, on October 15, that he suffered the injury.

At the time, his absence was estimated to be just a few weeks but the tear in the calf muscle proved more severe than initially thought.

Welsh told the Post: “In my career I’ve broken my leg and had niggly injuries but this has been completely different.

“Our physio Matt Jackson explained to me in some detail what had happened but 
basically I think the muscle has separated and taken its time to repair.

“It’s been very frustrating, I’ve missed a lot of football in the last few months.

“What I found was that I taking two steps forward and then three back in terms of getting fit.

“I’d be close to getting back to training but then I would get a lot of pain.

“It seemed that the more desperate I was to get back out there with the lads, the worse the setback would be.

“This summer I have been on the weights, getting the leg as strong as possible.

“It is feeling a lot stronger now and hopefully it will be fine when we come back for training in a fortnight’s time.

“The physio will guide me in pre-season. I don’t know whether he will put me straight back in training or take things a bit slower.

“In the last few weeks, I’ve been coming to the training ground to see Jacko so that he can assess me.

“Then I’ve been working in the gym nearer home.”

Welsh had only recently got himself back in the PNE side when injury struck, having started last season very much on the fringes of the squad.

So having got only eight games under his belt, it will be a case of trying to make up for lost time in 2017/18.

In a youthful-looking squad, there is room for the experience which 33-year-old Welsh provides.

“It is only natural that I want to try and make up for lost time,” said Welsh.

“I love being here, this club feels like home now.

“I’ve been here since the summer of 2012 and had a lot of good times.

“The season coming will be a big one – we want to improve on what we did last time.

“I think we improved last season on what we did the one before.

“While we finished in the same position, I thought we were better in a division which was stronger.

“The division will only get tougher because of what the teams coming down from the Premier League can spend.

“But we’ve shown in the last two seasons that we can compete well against the big teams.”