Preston North End right-back David Gray has cleared the latest hurdle on his road to recovery from a broken leg.
The 23-year-old was this week given the green light by a specialist to step up his training programme.
But he’ll still miss the start of the season, as he is a few weeks from joining in training with the rest of the North End squad.
PNE’s assistant manager Brian Horton told the Evening Post: “David saw the specialist on Thursday.
“He can now train with the physios and be monitored by them.
“David will see the specialist again in six weeks, when he can hopefully step up again.
“Obviously that means he won’t be ready for the start of the season, but reaching this latest stage of his recovery is good news.
“He can really start moving forward with his rehab work now.”
Gray broke his leg in the 1-1 draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road on March 5.
The Scotsman got the injury late in the game as North End held out for a point against the eventually-promoted Canaries.
At this stage it looks like Gray will resume training with the squad at the end of July, about a week before the start of the season.
So it’s likely to be a month or so into the new campaign when he’s fit to resume first-team action.
With Gray sidelined, Conor McLaughlin and Scott Leather will compete for the right-back role as North End head into League One.
McLaughlin’s recovery from a dislocated ankle and torn ligaments is going to plan.
The talented 19-year-old is back in training with the rest of Preston’s young players.
They all reported back for extra fitness sessions this week, and will do likewise next week.
McLaughlin has been out since early February. Said Horton: “Conor is flying in terms of his training.
“The boy has been in for most of the summer and is running really well.
“Touch wood, he’s not had any setbacks and that is good news.”
Horton reported that all the club’s first and second-year professionals had reported back for training in good shape.
The PNE No.2 said: “We’re pleased with their fitness levels, although at their age, you don’t expect them to really lose fitness over the summer.
“Actually, it’s the same for the senior players – they’ve got fitness programmes to stick to over the summer.
“We’ve had the young lads in on Monday, Wednesday and yesterday.
“They’ve been running and doing weights – yesterday and Wednesday they went to the running track at UCLan to do some work. When I was a young pro, we were expected to be at the front of the running group in pre-season training.
“That is what we expect of the kids here, so they’ve come back a bit earlier.
“Once the senior players come back, they tend to rein them in a bit.
“The young lads have a couple of weeks to get in front of the seniors.
“Any of the senior players who want to come back in a bit earlier can do so, otherwise they’re in for fitness testing at the end of the month.”