Preston North End midfielder Joel Byrom was set for a return to training today, his first chance to work under Simon Grayson.
The 26-year-old had hernia surgery the day after Grayson arrived at Deepdale and has spent the opening four weeks of the PNE manager’s tenure doing his rehabilitation work in the gym.
Byrom has now been given the green light to rejoin the squad and is anxious to impress on the Springfields training pitch.
He has got some catching up to do in terms of fitness, the hernia having restricted his training for some weeks before last month’s surgery.
The former Accrington and Stevenage player is keen to make up for lost time though, and wants to get some match action under his belt before the end of the campaign.
Byrom told the Evening Post: “It’s four weeks since I had the operation so I’m quite happy to be back this soon.
“I went in for the operation the day after the new gaffer came in, which has meant I’ve not even been out on the training pitch with him yet.
“Hopefully this week will give me my chance to get back involved and make a good impression.
“I’d had the hernia for two or three months before the operation but I just got to the stage where I couldn’t get through games anymore.
“Eventually I had to get the operation done and hopefully it’s done the trick.
“I’ve just had the right side done – I had the left side operated on four or five years ago.
“The first few days after the operation were very painful but I’m okay now.
“It will be good to get back training because I was rarely training before the operation.For the final month I trained one day a week to get myself ready for games but I was only lasting an hour of the matches.
“It was a difficult one really. I wanted to help the team and, with us having a lot of injuries, I didn’t want to be another body on the treatment table.
“But at the same time I wasn’t helping myself with the injury and couldn’t play at 100% in the games.
“There are six weeks left of the season now and hopefully I can get some game time before then, show the manager what I can do.”
While a spectator over the last few weeks, Byrom has been impressed with the performances put in by his PNE team-mates.
Until last Saturday’s stoppage-time defeat at Brentford, they had gone five games unbeaten to lift themselves away from the relegation zone.
Byrom, speaking during a community visit to Corpus Christi RC Sports College in Fulwood, added: “The new gaffer coming in seems to have given the place a lift.
“He’s let the players play and kept quite a settled side.
“The lads have just got on with the business and once results start coming, the confidence builds.
“When we hit that bad run of results a few months ago, it just seemed so hard to pick up a result.
“But once that win against Bournemouth came, the lads took a lot of confidence – it was weight lifted off everyone’s shoulders.
“We’ve been playing well since then.”