Preston North End striker shortage likely to ease slightly by the weekend

Alex Neil expects Preston North End's forward shortage to ease slightly soon after being down to one striker for the victory over Millwall.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 17th December 2018, 12:02 pm
Updated Monday, 17th December 2018, 1:53 pm
Preston striker Lukas Nmecha competes with Millwall centre-half Shaun Hutchinson
Preston striker Lukas Nmecha competes with Millwall centre-half Shaun Hutchinson

Lukas Nmecha led the line after Louis Moult missed out because of a nerve problem in his hamstring.Daniel Johnson was used in a wide-right role rather than centrally, with Tom Barkhuizen on the left.

There were spells when Barkhuizen rotated with Nmecha to play up front, his goal coming while playing as the striker.

Moult should be back for this weekend’s visit to Sheffield Wednesday.

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Tom Barkhuizen scores Preston's second goal against Millwall

He had recovered enough to train the day before the Millwall game but PNE boss felt he was not quite right.

His return is expected to be followed by that of Sean Maguire towards the end of the Christmas programme.

Neil said: “Louis should be okay for Saturday.

“The rest of the injuries will be as it is for the next game or two.

Ethan Walker, 16, was a substitute for Preston against Millwall

“Sean Maguire is probably the closest one to come back after Louis but that will be a few more weeks.

“We had restricted options against Millwall because of the injuries. Graham Burke was on the bench but is more of a No.10.

“What we probably needed in the second half was a No.9 and a bit of a change in the wide areas.”

Burke did join the action for the third game running as a late substitute, replacing Alan Browne.

Preston’s other attacking option on the bench was youth team player Ethan Walker.

The 16-year-old had been in the travelling squad for the win at Nottingham Forest but did not make the bench.

With PNE only scoring their third goal late in the game and then Millwall reducing the deficit during stoppage time, it was probably not the time to blood the teenager.

However, it was still a big moment for local lad Walker, who was a pupil at Broughton High School and before that Cottam Primary.

He follows fellow academy players Jack Baxter and Adam O’Reilly in making the bench.

Even with resources thin on the ground up front, PNE still netted three goals to see off Millwall.

Alan Browne, who opened the scoring, took his season’s tally to seven goals and only has Callum Robinson ahead of him in the scoring charts.

Barkhuizen has six for the campaign in league and cup, while Andrew Hughes’ goal was his second for Preston.