Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Injuries will always happen in football but Preston North End do seem to be getting more than their fair share at the moment and those are hitting them very hard.
Kevin O'Connor makes a clearance against Ipswich at Portman RoadKevin O'Connor makes a clearance against Ipswich at Portman Road
Kevin O'Connor makes a clearance against Ipswich at Portman Road

Managers can deal with an injury list where you’ve got a couple of strikers out, a midfielder and perhaps a defender or two.

But when the injuries are mainly in one position, like it is at North End, it has a huge effect.

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Results show that all the injuries in defence are taking their toll.

To concede three goals at Ipswich, who are no great shakes, is disappointing 
but at the moment it is a make-do-and-mend job for Alex Neil.

Earlier in the season when I was at Darlington, we had a similar problem.

We had a whole back four out with a variety of injuries, while we were missing lads who could cover them.

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In the end we had central midfielders playing in the middle of the defence and wingers at full-back.

It is a case of doing the best you can until you can get some of your players back.

Bearing in mind the length of the injury list at Deepdale, the international break couldn’t have come at a better time.

We always have the 
debate of whether you want the break to come around.

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At the end of September, North End were flying and would have wanted to 
carry on playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, rather than have a fortnight off.

Wind the clock forward to now and two weeks off is just what is needed.

A couple of the injuries might have cleared up during that time and Neil will have time to work on the training ground with the lads who are available.

There will be work done on trying to more solid at the back and get back to the things they were doing so well just a month or so ago.

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Preston resume against Bolton after the break and that is a big game.

They need to start to get some points on the board again and you have to bear in mind that two tough away games follow at Bristol City and Norwich.

North End have shown what they are capable of this season.

Some of the displays in the run when they went nine games unbeaten were very impressive – goals were scored and there were some clean sheets in there.

To help them get back to that, they need some of the injuries to clear up and build their confidence again.

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I saw that Ipswich’s first goal against North End came from a free-kick, with the keeper stepping a bit too far behind the wall.

I’ve often wondered if having a wall is necessary, or at least one with six or seven players in it.

Is the guy taking the free-kick from 25 yards always going to score from there?

I think it can be harder for a keeper where his view is partly blocked by the wall.

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Meanwhile, it proved to be a short stint in charge of Sunderland for former PNE manager Simon Grayson.

Sunderland look like a club with massive problems and you’ve got to ask why Grayson took the gamble of going there.