PNE midfielder’s performance is praised

John Welsh
John Welsh
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The performance of John Welsh in Preston North End’s win over Hull City was labelled as ‘excellent’ by Simon Grayson.

Welsh was a driving force in the Lilywhites midfield in what was his 150th appearance for PNE – a landmark also reached by Bailey Wright.

He also made a goalline clearance in the last moments of stoppage-time to deny his former club an undeserved equaliser.

North End boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “John was excellent and you always know what you are going to get from him.

“He likes to tackle and loves closing down, breaking up what the opposition are trying to do.

“John was unfortunate not to have played at Huddersfield at Boxing Day.

“Looking back, it was probably a harsh call but with the way Neil Kilkenny had played after coming on at Leeds, I decided to start him.

“You do miss what John Welsh and Alan Browne bring when they are not in the team.

“On Monday, John was as good as anyone out there and full credit to him for keeping himself in good shape, ready for when he was needed to come back into the team.”

Welsh has had to be patient of late in terms of getting a start in the North End side.

He spent two months on the bench, returning to the starting XI for the game at Leeds on December 20.

But when Jordan Pickford was sent-off after half an hour, Welsh was the outfield player sacrificed to allow sub keeper Matt Hudson to join the action.

Against Huddersfield, he was an unused sub, but the Hull game saw him given a start to stiffen the midfield.

Earlier in his career, Welsh spent four years with Hull, joining them initially from Liverpool on loan before the move was made permanent.

Welsh will be confident of keeping his place for the visit of Rotherham to Deepdale on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday is also the day that the transfer window opens for business.

Both incoming and outgoing business is expected at Deepdale during January.

With Sunderland poised to recall goalkeeper Pickford from his loan, efforts are being made behind the scenes to secure a replacement.

Sam Johnstone would be the obvious ready-made choice, although that is in the hands of Manchester United.

North End will attempt to extend Adam Reach’s loan, his initial spell from Middlesbrough due to run out after Saturday’s game.

The long-term injury to Chris Humphrey will mean a right-winger is on the shopping list, Humphrey out for the season because of a stress fracture to his shin bone.

Grayson might seek another striker too due to the absence of Stevie May.

In the other direction, Andy Little, Kyel Reid and Jamie Jones, who are all out on loan at Blackpool, Bradford and Colchester respectively, are all likely to be loaned out again in January.