PNE striker’s injury worry

Neil Mellor in action against Bury
Neil Mellor in action against Bury
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Neil Mellor’s season could be finished after the Preston North End striker encountered further problems with the knee he had surgery on earlier in the campaign.

And with the striker’s contract running out in the summer, there’s the chance he won’t be seen in a Preston shirt again.

Mellor underwent cartilage surgery in December after being injured in the pre-Christmas win over MK Dons.

He returned to action against Bury 11 days ago as an 85th-minute substitute.

But his knee swelled up following that brief appearance and he’s been unable to train since.

PNE boss Graham Westley said: “Mells will maybe have a jab to help along the swelling he has in his knee.

“We may not see him again this season – we have to be honest about that.

“He came on for a few minutes against Bury and wasn’t able to train last week following it.

“We’ll have to see what happens.

“To guide people would be wrong because we are awaiting answers ourselves.”

Mellor remains North End’s joint top scorer with nine goals this term, despite missing two chunks of the season.

An ankle injury sustained in October’s defeat at Walsall sidelined him for a month.

Then he twisted his knee in the first half of the MK Dons game on December 17, tearing a cartilage.

He underwent surgery in London a few days later, returning to full training in the week leading up to the Bury game at Deepdale.

If the 29-year-old doesn’t make it back before the end of the season, it leaves his North End future up in the air.

Mellor is among 14 PNE players out of contract in the summer.

He is one of the higher earners, and if the club were to offer him a new deal, it wouldn’t be on the salary he is on now.

So a summer exit looks likely, with a number of clubs sure to be interested in him.

Westley has made great play of how results without Mellor haven’t been good.

There is better news, though, regarding the progress being made by Danny Mayor.

The winger hasn’t played since being substituted at half-time in the win at Exeter on March 17.

Said Westley: “Danny isn’t a million miles away.

“He actually wasn’t far away from playing against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

“It was a case of ‘do we risk him at Wednesday or hold him back knowing we have a full week of training in front of us’?

“We decided to err on the side of caution and give him that little bit longer to recover and work on his fitness.

“In terms of all of the squad, we have a free midweek to get ourselves back together and sort out one or two issues.

“We want to drive ourselves into the right shape for what is a huge game for the club on Saturday.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, having a blank midweek for the first time since the end of February has come at the right time for Thorsten Stuckmann.

He injured his back in training late last week and it hampered him during the defeat to Wednesday.

But it is hoped that, with a few days’ rest, the goalkeeper can be back to his best for the Easter games against MK Dons and Stevenage.

Aaron Brown is unlikely to be available having dislocated his shoulder at the weekend.

Meanwhile, reserve players Dominic Comrie and Jamie Douglas have left PNE.

Both are contracted until the end of the season, but goalkeeper Comrie is training at Bolton to keep fit before looking for a new club.

And striker Douglas recently underwent knee surgery and has decided to return to Northern Ireland to carve out a career there.