PNE boss searches for positives
Simon Grayson tried to look to the positives after seeing Preston North End hit with a double injury blow.
Greg Cunningham fractured his tibia in the 3-1 defeat to Norwich on Easter Monday, a setback which came just four days after captain Tom Clarke limped off at Huddersfield with a ruptured Achilles.
The Irishman could return from his leg break, suffered in a firm but fair challenge with Steven Naismith, in time for pre-season but PNE discovered over the weekend that Clarke could be out for between eight and 10 months.
“To lose any player is disappointing and to suffer two injuries like we have in the last two games isn’t very good at all,” said Grayson.
“In terms of where we are at this stage of the season if you’re going to get injured, get injured now because you’ve got the summer to get yourself sorted.
“With Greg, sometimes when you mention the words fracture or break and it can sound very damning.
”But he’ll be back for pre-season and ready to go for next season.
“He tried to carry on and that’s the type of character he is.
“He’s probably didn’t realise how serious it was.”
For skipper Clarke the time out is far longer with scan results confirming PNE’s worst fears.
“It’s a massive blow for the lad,” said Grayson.
“He’s a big part of this football club and to suffer an injury like that when no one is near you is devastating.
“We’ll do the best that we can for Tom.
“I think he goes in for the operation on Thursday and again I suppose any positive is that the season is nearly over and six to eight weeks of his recovery is in the summer.”
Cunningham’s injury came on a disappointing day for Preston, who lost for the third game in a row and for the first time at Deepdale in the league since the Boxing Day reverse to Leeds.
North End put in arguably their worst first-half performance of the season with Graham Dorrans and Josh Murphy on target for the visitors.
Tommy Spurr pulled a goal back with his first for the Lilywhites midway through the second half but as they pushed for a leveller, North End were caught out with James Maddison making sure of the points in stoppage time.
“We could have been dead and buried in the first half,” said Grayson.
“They had a good chance just before half-time to make it 3-0. Half-time is the angriest I’ve been for a long time.
“We’ve been very solid during the last couple of seasons but that wasn’t the case.
“Too many players didn’t win their individual battles and didn’t do enough to stop the opposition.”