PNE skipper back on familiar turf

Preston's John Welsh will face his old club Tranmere tomorrow
Preston's John Welsh will face his old club Tranmere tomorrow
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John Welsh is expecting a hot reception from the Tranmere Rovers supporters when he returns to Prenton Park with Preston North End tomorrow.

The Lilywhites skipper made more than 150 appearances for Rovers during a three-season stay on the Wirral.

While he enjoyed his time there, Welsh will be going all out to help North End pick up three points as they seek to keep in touch with League One’s top three.

Welsh told the Evening Post: “John Barnes signed me for Tranmere in 2009.

“At the time I was coming back from a bad injury and struggling to get a club basically.

“They were right on my doorstep and Tranmere gave me a chance which I took.

“My priority when I went there was just to play a lot of football again and stay injury-free.

“I’ve got some great memories and have kept in touch with a few of the people there.

“I captained Tranmere, which is something that I’m very proud of.

“I’m sure that I will get a few boos from their fans, which is always the way.

“That won’t bother me – they will spur me on if anything.

“Hopefully they might direct the boos more at David Buchanan than me! It is always good to have a few baddies in football isn’t it?”

Welsh and his team-mates make the trip to Merseyside on the back of a terrific display against Nottingham Forest in Wednesday’s FA Cup replay.

Although they went down to a 2-0 defeat, their performance was impressive to say the least, with Forest really having to hang on for long spells in the second half.

Welsh’s performance in particular caught the eye of PNE boss Simon Grayson.

“The three lads in midfield really complemented each other very well,” Grayson said.

“With no disrespect to Keith Keane, who was voted man of the match, I thought that John Welsh was probably it.

“He was outstanding and covered every blade of grass out there.”

Welsh believes the Forest display can spur Preston on to a sustained promotion push.

Rather than be disappointed by the result, he says it can be a platform for the months ahead.

Said Welsh: “We are getting to the business-end of the season where we need to pick up three points regularly.

“We have quality players in the squad and whoever the gaffer brings in to play, they will be right up for it.

“The Forest performance just showed how far we have come as a side.

“We gave a good account of ourselves against an excellent side from a higher league.”

Grayson will freshen up the side tomorrow and certainly has some firepower to bring in.

Deadline-day signing Craig Davies is available after being cup-tied against Forest.

Paul Gallagher and Joe Garner started on the bench before coming on after 66 minutes.

Said Grayson: “Apart from Josh Brownhill, who is touch and go, everyone is available and desperate to play.”