Dave SEddon's PNE pressview
Long-term injuries suffered by footballers are unwelcome at any time of the year but there is something about ones in pre-season which makes the news that bit more grim.
Friendly fire so to speak, sustained ironically as players work on their fitness levels ready for the campaign ahead.
The sight of Calum Woods leaving Boundary Park on crutches this week was sad, the news 48 hours later that he would be out for the full season even more painful to hear.
At this point, may I wish Woods as speedy a recovery as possible in the circumstances.
He will not be alone when it comes to players nursing long-term injuries sustained during pre-season action.
Just last week, Rotherham striker Jonson Clarke-Harris damaged his cruciate ligament in a friendly and faces nine months on the sidelines – the time it will take Woods to fully recover.
While injuries are part and parcel of the game, it must eat away at a player to get hurt at this stage and not even get the chance to kick a ball in competitive action.
North End have been on the receiving end of pre-season injuries before, it not being a new thing by any stretch.
In 2006, Youl Mawene collided with team-mate Brian Stock during a friendly against Manchester United at Deepdale.
He suffered knee ligament damage which was to rule him out for the full season.
Lee Trundle got done at Morecambe four years ago, three games or so into being part of Graham Westley’s summer of 2012 revolution.
With the boot on the other foot, didn’t Wigan defender Steve Walsh break his leg in a friendly against PNE at Springfield Park in 1987?
Tight calf muscles and pulled hamstrings in pre-season, you can have a moan and curse about.
But impact injuries when bones break and ligaments buckle under huge force, can sadly just be down to bad luck.
My initial thought when Woods and Jamie Reckford went in at full throttle on Tuesday night, was that it was touch strong on the Oldham man’s part.
Others went a bit further in their description, some I spoke to went the other way with their view.
The ball was there to be won I suppose, and nothing is going to turn back the clock now.
On another day, the impact might have been millimetres the other way and both players would have picked themselves up and got on with things.
Woods will certainly be a big miss to North End during his time out recovering.
He might not have been a favourite to start with after first joining from Huddersfield two years ago.
But the defender has developed as a player and grown in popularity over the past 12 months or so.
Woods demonstrated his versatility by playing at left-back in the play-off final at Wembley.
Last term, he operated on the right-side of defence both as a full-back and a wing-back.
For a spell in the autumn, he was pressed into action in the centre of defence when Tom Clarke and Paul Huntington were out injured – and their temporary replacement Paddy McCarthy was hurt too.
Every credit, Woods, Bailey Wright and Greg Cunningham formed a mean back line as North End went on a great run in October and into November.
There are stand-ins within the squad but not by the looks of it, sustainable replacements.
Tom Clarke can play there but that takes him out of the middle, while Chris Humphrey would slot into a wing-back role but not long-term as a right-back.
We are told Liam Grimshaw can play at right-back but we are yet to see him in competitive action, indeed he has missed the last two friendlies.
Although North End might have been tempted to do a bit more summer business at a leisurely pace before Woods’ injury, the urgency might just have increased a few notches.
With no emergency loan window this season, it is not a case of being able to see how things go on before looking for reinforcements.
The Woods injury aside, it was a decent evening’s work for PNE at Oldham.
Never have I have baked in a heatwave there, Boundary Park usually doing a more than passable impression of Ice Station Zebra.
Eoin Doyle continues to impress, him being the pick of the strikers on show in the three public friendlies to date.
Alongside him, Simon Makienok used his height well.
I enjoyed what John Welsh produced in midfield, at one stage being the starting point of an impressive counter attack from the edge of his own box.