Graham Westley has assured Preston North End fans that they’ll start seeing the best of skipper John Mousinho once he has overcome injury and illness issues.
Following such a promising start in pre-season, the 26-year-old suffered a torn hamstring on the opening day of the campaign.
That injury sidelined him for a month, and recently he’s been unavailable again after being laid low by a dose of mumps.
Westley revealed that Mousinho had been hit hard by the illness, which causes swelling of the saliva glands.
And as he is also carrying a knock, it is likely to be next month’s visit to former club Stevenage before the midfielder comes back into contention.
“Mumps has been quite debilitating for him,” Westley told the Evening Post.
“With the timescale of things, he must have played a couple of games with the illness in his system but before the symptoms came out.
“Mous has had a tough time – it’s been quite a bad dose of mumps which has knocked him sideways.
“He might have missed some games anyway because he’s been carrying a knock. With us playing Saturday-Tuesday next week, we’re probably looking at the Stevenage game for him to come back.”
Westley says the level of performance seen from Mousinho in pre-season and during the League Cup win over Huddersfield in August, is a true reflection of his ability.
After suffering the hamstring damage against Colchester, he returned to action as a late substitute in September’s 5-0 win over Hartlepool.
He then started the next five games before taking a substitute’s role for the MK Dons game.
Said Westley: “Mous started the season on fire – he rampaged in the game against Leeds and scored a cracking goal that day.
“We’ve not seen him at his best since then but he’ll be back and will be a massive asset to us once he’s fully fit.”
Westley was looking to make use of a free midweek in the calendar to get some extra work done with the PNE squad on the training ground.
“It’s nice to have a clear week sometimes and be able to take stock,” said Westley.
“The first couple of days is an opportunity to get some fitness work done.
“Weeks like this give you the chance to have a good look at things and spot the odd missing ingredient.
“There’s no question that we have come a long way this season but we’re looking for more.”
The lack of midweek action gives Westley’s men a valuable few days in the run-up to North End’s FA Cup tie on Saturday, with Yeovil visiting Deepdale in the first round.
Tickets are priced £10 adults and £5 concessions, with unreserved seating in operation.
Meanwhile, Preston North End’s Under-18s face Gateshead in the first round of the FA Youth Cup tomorrow night at the International Stadium (7pm).