PNE hand Callum a birthday present

Callum Robinson
Callum Robinson
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Callum Robinson got a move back to Preston North End for his 20th birthday, the striker’s return being the one piece of business done at Deepdale on transfer deadline day.

The Aston Villa front man has signed on loan for the rest of the season, PNE making their move amid interest from other clubs in him.

Callum Robinson

Callum Robinson

Robinson, who turned 20 yesterday, spent 10 weeks with the Lilywhites in the autumn, scoring five goals.

But that loan was cut short when Villa recalled him three days after he netted North End’s winner at Bristol City in November.

His return to the team will not be an instant one though, with Robinson currently recovering from a hamstring strain he suffered in training with Villa.

With a couple of clubs from the Championship keen to take him, PNE decided it was worth making their move now rather than wait for the loan window and risk missing out.

North End had also made moves earlier to try and sign Eoin Doyle from Chesterfield.

They put in a bid on Sunday which the Spireites were considering but Cardiff City came in to offer the 25-goal Irishman the chance of Championship football.

On the outgoing front, there was interest from Stevenage to take Keith Keane on loan but a deal could not be reached over what percentage of his wages they would pay.

The move for Robinson was not a surprise, bearing in mind Simon Grayson had expressed a desire to try and re-sign him from the moment he went back to Villa.

After sealing the move last night, Robinson said: “I am really happy to come back for the rest of the season.

“I know all the lads and all the staff and I am looking forward to getting going again.

“The Preston fans have been great to me and I now want to focus on getting sharp again, getting a few more goals and hopefully helping the team get the promotion we are all aiming for.”

Robinson was the third arrival of the transfer window, following on from his Villa team-mate Daniel Johnson and keeper Sam Johnstone.

Before the window opened, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake joined as a free agent.

Fans were hoping for more activity in light of the dip in results last month – Preston have gone seven games without a win.

That is a run which they will be looking to halt in tonight’s FA Cup replay with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Up for grabs is a televised home tie in the fifth round against Manchester United or Cambridge – they play this evening at Old Trafford.

PNE boss Grayson says the desire to return to winning ways and the possibility of facing United provides a double incentive.

“This game could be a massive spark for us,” said Grayson.

“The incentive first and foremost is to get back on track with a victory, then there is the incentive that we could be coming up against one of the best teams in Europe.

“There has been some doom and gloom around and rightly so because we have let ourselves down with results and performances lately.

“We have lacked that extra confidence, belief and nous to go and win games.

“The players are hurting because they have not been performing as a team, the staff are hurting because we haven’t got results.”

Johnstone and Johnson miss out tonight because they are cup-tied, while Jermaine Beckford remains sidelined through illness.

Said Grayson: “Jermaine is still struggling with an ear infection. It is quite a severe one which has caused him to have dizzy spells.”