PNE midfielder takes step closer to full fitness

John Welsh played in PNE's Lancashire Senior Cup win over BurnleyJohn Welsh played in PNE's Lancashire Senior Cup win over Burnley
John Welsh played in PNE's Lancashire Senior Cup win over Burnley
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.

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.

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

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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.”