Double boost for Preston North End as Scott Sinclair eyes first start and Daniel Johnson ready to return

Preston will have a sharper Scott Sinclair and possibly a fit-again Daniel Johnson to bolster their Deepdale attacking armoury against Charlton Athletic tomorrow.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 17th January 2020, 5:00 am
Preston new boy Scott Sinclair sharpened his fitness in a midweek bounce game
Preston new boy Scott Sinclair sharpened his fitness in a midweek bounce game

After a brief cameo at Blackburn last week, new boy Sinclair has more training and a bounce game in his legs.

Leading scorer Johnson returned to training with the PNE squad this week after a nine-match absence because of a knee injury.

Whether the midfielder is risked straight away is down to what North End boss Alex Neil has seen from him over the last few days.

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But having him back in consideration is a big plus for Neil, who is looking to guide his side to their first win since December 14.

Sinclair having had more time to settle in after his move from Celtic is a bonus too. The winger found the net in Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors game with Accrington.

However, one unfortunate consequence of that bounce match was midfielder Tom Bayliss twisting his ankle and he faces a few weeks out.

On Johnson being back in training, Neil said: “When you look at DJ’s form at the start of the season, it would be safe to say he’s made more of an impact than some of the other lads in that area.

“When he was in the team we went through a good run and that was not solely down to DJ, it was everyone contributing.

“Of late we have obviously gone through a sticky patch.

“It is difficult to highlight any individual but equally it did show how well DJ did do when playing regularly.”

With Sinclair, Neil will use him wisely as he takes into consideration his lack of game time with Celtic this season.

He has liked what he has seen from the 31-year-old this week. Said Neil: “It will be a gradual process with Scott but he has certainly looked brighter this week in terms of him getting used to it.

“In Scotland he would have been playing in games where they maybe had 75 per cent possession as a forward.

“You can stay at the top end of the pitch but coming here to play for us, there is the defensive part to play too.

“Scott scored a really good goal in the bounce game the other day, that is the quality he will bring us.

“He has played at top clubs, won trophies, he knows what it feels like to win games.

“In terms of pedigree 
there is no question he has been the signing who the fans will get the most excited about.”

An ankle injury is likely to keep Andrew Hughes out, with Joe Rafferty deputising again at left-back.

Meanwhile, North End winger Josh Ginnelly yesterday completed a loan move to Bristol Rovers for the rest of the season.