Ben 10 is a danger to PNE
Preston midfielder Ben Pearson is being urged to keep on the right side of referees for a while longer as he continues to walk a disciplinary tightrope.
Pearson has nine bookings and one more would trigger a two-match suspension.
He came through Monday’s win at Burton without a card, ensuring the 22-year-old is available for Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal.
North End manager Simon Grayson is looking beyond that though, with big league games coming up against Brighton and Aston Villa.
Given the way he plays, there is an inevitability that Pearson will get 10 yellows.
The FA’s cut-off point for players in the Football League to avoid a ban is the second weekend of March.
Grayson said: “Hopefully Ben can get to the amnesty without a booking, although I don’t think he will.
“He plays on the edge and we know he will be booked somewhere down the line.
“People talk about him having avoided a 10th booking so he can play against Arsenal.
“I’m concerned about the league too, we’ve got some tough games coming up and we want everyone available.”
Another North End player getting close to the 10 bookings mark is Greg Cunningham, the left-back currently on eight.
Grayson hopes the rotation of his squad for the games against Sheffield Wednesday and Burton, will provide him with plenty of selection options for the Arsenal game.
He made four changes to the starting XI at Burton, leaving Alex Baptiste out of the squad and limiting Aiden McGeady, Paul Gallagher and Simon Makienok to run-outs in the latter stages.
Said Grayson: “Because of his age and injuries he’s had in the past, we didn’t want to play Baps twice in three days.
“He’s fine and if we had asked him to play, he would have done.
“Sometimes you have to take decisions like that out of players’ hands.
“As far as Gallagher and McGeady were concerned, they were never going to start at Burton.
“They had only just come back from injury on Saturday, so to start again on Monday was a step too far.
“The plan at Burton was to bring them on later in the game as it opened up.”
An injury suffered in training by Marnick Vermijl will be assessed as the week goes on, the Belgian missing from the squad on Monday.
It could be that Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan come into contention for the weekend, Grayson having decided against throwing them straight in after their moves from Dundalk became official.
“Andy and Daryl have had three or four days of training with us, which was probably not quite long enough for them to learn the systems we use,” said Grayson.
“They’ll pick it up quickly enough and if they don’t make Arsenal on Saturday, at the very latest they will be in contention the following week against Brighton.”