PNE midfielder takes step closer to full fitness

John Welsh is confident that his long-term injury is behind him and a return to Preston's first-team squad is not far off.

Wednesday, 6th September 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:46 pm
John Welsh played in PNE's Lancashire Senior Cup win over Burnley

Welsh came through 71 minutes of PNE’s 3-2 win over Burnley in the Lancashire Senior Cup at the Springfields training ground yesterday.

After playing 45 minutes of a recent behind-closed-doors game against Fleetwood, the 33-year-old is heading in the right direction fitness-wise.

The midfielder tore the calf muscle in his right leg in last October’s Championship clash at Brighton.

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It was an injury which turned out to be more severe than first envisaged.

During pre-season he had to take a step back to assess the work he was doing but is now back at ‘full tilt’ during training sessions.

Welsh told the Post: “It is all about building up bit by bit, hopefully the next step is to get 90 minutes.

“It’s been a case of having to manage my comeback and just be sensible.

“After being out for a long time you are always going to get niggles and aches and pains.

“At one stage in pre-season I had to take a step back and assess it all with physio Matt Jackson.

“That worked a treat, we managed it well and I’ve had no issues since.

“I’m not feeling the injury at all now – I haven’t done for a while.

“At times in pre-season it was a bit stiff and sore.

“That is when we stepped back and reassessed it.

“I’m at the point where I feel I can play 90 minutes.

“If called upon, I think I would be ready for the first team – you’ve always got to be ready for that.

“I feel in a good place, I feel fit and sharp in training at the moment.

“I’ve been training fully for a while now, going at fill tilt, not coming in before the end of a session or staying in the gym when the others go out.”

Welsh was part of a strong Preston team yesterday which saw off a young Burnley side.

Calum Woods, another long-term absentee, played the full game, and there was a run for Paul Gallagher after his recent bout of concussion.

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd continued his recovery from a thigh strain by playing the full 90 minutes.

Marnick Vermijl and Josh Harrop were on target for PNE, those goals coming 
after an own goal from Clarets right-back Arlen Birch.

Said Welsh: “I thought we played well, apart from giving away two sloppy goals.

“We knew Burnley were a young side who were going to be well organised and fit, so we had to move the ball quickly.

“It was a good work-out for us, the movement for two of our goals when we went down the sides and overlapped was very good.”