Ben set for PNE return

Ben Pearson is being urged to pick up where he left off when he returns to Preston North End's squad following suspension.
Preston North End's Ben PearsonPreston North End's Ben Pearson
Preston North End's Ben Pearson

The all-action midfielder has completed a two-match ban for 10 bookings and is available to face Ipswich Town at Deepdale.

Pearson has arguably been North End’s most consistent performer since getting back into the team in September.

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He has collected a string of man-of-the-match awards, the latest being in the FA Cup clash with Arsenal.

That January 7 game was when he was cautioned for the 10th time, triggering his ban.

PNE boss Simon Grayson said: “It will be nice to have Ben available .

“We beat Brighton and drew at Aston Villa without him, so have we missed Ben?

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“Yes and no is the answer to that in terms of results but you will miss someone like Ben who had been playing at the top of his game and has been very influential for us.

“Alan Browne came into the team and did very well, while Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher have played in there too.

“Anyone who has been out suspended – this applies to Greg Cunningham too who is available at Cardiff – you want them to come back in and pick up where they left off.

“Ben and Greg have been very good and we didn’t want to be without them.

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“It has not been for long and they will come back to add to the competition for places in the squad.”

Pearson will be minded to watch his step with referees.

Reaching 15 bookings leads to a three-game suspension and an appearance before the FA.

His 10 yellows this term have come in just 19 games, a three-match run without a booking as good as it has got for the former Manchester United reserve.

Cunningham played 29 games before catching-up with Pearson on the cautions.

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He sat out the 2-2 draw at Villa and will be a spectator again for the Ipswich game.

Meanwhile, Grayson says a need for games rather than to free-up funds and space in the squad will be the main reason for allowing fringe players to leave PNE on loan before the transfer window closes.

Strikers Stevie May and Eoin Doyle are in demand, while Liam Grimshaw is also understood to have attracted enquiries.

Grayson said: “Sometimes you let players out to free-up opportunities for others to come in.

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“Sometimes though, you do it because you think you have enough options in the squad and it’s for the benefit of the players.

“It can be a long season for some players without a lot of game time.

“We are in a fortunate position to have some decent strikers and midfielders on our books.

“We might be able to have the luxury of letting a couple of players out on loan.

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“The decision to scrap the emergency loan window has made things more difficult.

“If we still had the system, Stevie May would have been out on loan for a month now with me knowing I could call him back if necessary.

“He would be getting games and building his fitness up.

“If we loan him or any of the lads before the window, it has to be for the rest of the season and there is not the option to call them back early.

“It is that situation that we have to weigh-up when we get enquiries to take players on loan.

“We will see how things go in the next few days.”