Pain – and gain – for PNE new boy Ben

Ben Pearson made his PNE bow at Bristol City
Ben Pearson made his PNE bow at Bristol City
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Ben Pearson’s debut for Preston was at times a painful one but it satisfied his new boss Simon Grayson.

The midfielder was on the end of a crunching tackle in the first half of PNE’s 2-1 win over Bristol City, one which left him hobbling for a couple of minutes before running off the pain.

Later on, he suffered a touch of cramp which forced his substitution in the 82nd minute.

Lilywhites manager Grayson put Pearson straight into the team just a day after his £300,000 move from Manchester United went through.

The 21-year-old played a holding role, which allowed Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson to operate in more attacking areas.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “Ben came off for the last few minutes because of cramp – it was probably down to a bit of nervous energy on his debut.

“In the first half he was caught by a bit of a naughty challenge.

“But when you’re a player like Ben who likes to tackle, you tend to get a few back.

“It was a good debut from him, I’m really pleased.

“Although he only came into the group of Monday, I had no hesitation about putting him in the team.

“We were able to get Gally a little bit further forward and get him on the ball to create chances.

“Ben being in the position he was also meant he was in and around Luke Freeman when we were out of possession.

“He kept things simple and effective, made tackles and the lad has a bright future with us.”

Pearson and his team-mates who started Tuesday’s game had a recovery session on Wednesday morning at their Bristol hotel, before travelling to Essex where PNE are basing themselves ahead of the clash with Ipswich on Saturday.

Said Grayson: “The players who played against Bristol City did a session in the pool and gym, while those who didn’t start, did some work.

“We stayed in Bristol after the game and will be together ahead of the Ipswich match.

“At this stage of the season with a lot of games and the heavier pitches, a lot of the emphasis is on recovery, making sure we freshen up the lads’ minds and legs between the games.”

For the Ipswich game, Adam Reach is the only doubt at this stage. The winger hurt his knee in training on Monday but initially was fit enough to be named on the bench at Bristol City.

During the warm-up, though, he felt a twinge and his place among the substitutes went to Josh Brownhill.

Grayson said: “He tweaked his knee on Monday afternoon and declared himself fit on Tuesday lunchtime.

“I said to him I would rather give him a breather on the bench and have him come on if he was needed.

“That gave me the chance to play three big centre-backs and put Greg Cunningham at left wing-back.

“Right at the end of the warm-up, Adam just caught his knee again.

“We put Josh on the bench – he had been in the dressing room in his hat and gloves ready to watch the game, so he had to get changed quickly.”