A welcome break - Preston boss hoping to take full advantage of fixure list gap

Preston manager Alex Neil hopes the current break in action can help sharpen-up key players and see a couple more return to fitness.

Saturday, 25th January 2020, 5:00 am
Preston North End's Paul Gallagher has been affected by injury recently

The Lilywhites, without a game this weekend following their early exit from the FA Cup, are back in action next Saturday at Deepdale against Swansea City.

Neil says the extra time on the training pitch will benefit Scott Sinclair and Daniel Johnson in terms of their sharpness.

Sinclair is recently arrived from Celtic and Johnson just back from seven weeks out with a knee injury.

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On the injury front, Paul Gallagher and Andrew Hughes have missed games of late and this gap in the fixture list will allow more recovery time.

Neil said: “Hopefully the break will allow us to get a couple of bodies back.

“We have a couple of the lads who aren’t far away and hopefully we can get them back for the next batch of games.

“We can get some more fitness into DJ and Scott Sinclair before we play next.

“You know how important DJ is to us and the more work he can do, the better.

“Scotty has come down to this level and is finding his feet at the moment.

“I thought he did very well at Barnsley in the week and to see him get through 90 minutes against Charlton was very pleasing.

“This gives us a bit more time to do some work without having a game to prepare for.”

Neil gave the squad a short breather after the Barnsley win before having them back in for training yesterday.

They have the weekend off and on Monday will start the build-up to the Swansea game.

As far as the injury list is concerned, Gallagher and Hughes are the closest to being back.

Tom Bayliss and Billy Bodin have picked up ankle injuries of late which will keep them sidelines for the next few weeks.

Gallagher missed the wins against Charlton and Barnsley with a groin problem.

It had been affecting him in the few games prior to that and it is hoped a rest coupled with an injection in the area will settle things down.

A frustrating stop-start season for left-back Hughes has been in stop mode again of late.

The Welshman last played on New Year’s Day but went over on his ankle in the 2-0 defeat to Middlesbrough.

He’d played seven games in a row until then, his best run of the season.

Neil said: “As you know, Hughesy fractured a bone in his foot in the Blackburn here in October.

“He recovered from that, got back in the team but then rolled his ankle. It’s taken a bit longer for him to recover than we thought.”