Another casualty on PNE sick list

Tom Clarke leaves the pitch with PNE club doctor Dominic Lakeland
Tom Clarke leaves the pitch with PNE club doctor Dominic Lakeland
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Skipper Tom Clarke has joined the Preston North End centre-back casualty count ahead of the visit to Charlton tomorrow.

Clarke suffered a shoulder injury in the goalless draw with Cardiff and left Deepdale later with his arm in a sling.

With Paul Huntington struggling to regain full fitness after a hamstring strain, and Paddy McCarthy still nursing the knee injury he picked up 10 minutes into his debut at Sheffield Wednesday, PNE are down to the bare bones.

Calum Woods moved from right-back to partner Bailey Wright in the middle when Clarke went off.

Unless North End make a move in the loan market or Huntington’s recovery is speedier than expected, it will be the Woods and Wright pairing at The Valley.

Preston boss Simon Grayson said: “Tom got a knock on the shoulder and he will have it X-rayed to see where he is at for tomorrow night.

“Hopefully it is nothing too severe but for the captain to have to come off, he must have been in some pain.

“We are getting a bit short in the centre of defence.

“A fortnight ago, we signed Paddy McCarthy who then had to come off after 10 minutes of his first game.

“Hunts is not a million miles away but he keeps getting one step closer to being fit then stands still a little bit.

“We have to be careful with him because if we push it too much, the hamstring could go again and we would be without him for a number of weeks.

“Against Cardiff we moved Calum Woods across and he did a wholehearted job in the middle. Calum is a manager’s player to be fair, probably a bit under-rated by some people.

“He gives his all, is two-footed and versatile.

“If we can keep Calum fit for a run of games, we have got a good player there.

“With the loan market, I don’t want to keep going and going with that.

“It is not a cheap business and you have got to think what is out there.

“But if Tom Clarke is going to be out long term, we might have to look at a loan.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, Chris Humphrey is out for two months after being diagnosed with a stress fracture of his shin.

The winger had played with the injury for some time and it was only after seeing a specialist in the international break that the extent of the injury was discovered.

Saturday’s draw lifted PNE off the bottom of the table, a position they had dropped to after Bristol City’s win on Friday night.

But just seven goals in 11 league games shows the area where a major improvement is required, Grayson calling for more belief from his side.

He said: “This group of players have come through League One with us and they know their limitations at times.

“They have to keep believing in themselves a bit more – we believe in them… the fans do.

“The lads are not going to get any problems from me if they try and express themselves at the top end.”