Alex on the way Bap!

PNE defender Alex Baptiste is edging closer to fitness after a knee injury
PNE defender Alex Baptiste is edging closer to fitness after a knee injury
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Simon Grayson is hopeful that Alex Baptiste’s return to the Preston squad after injury is not too far away.

The defender suffered a knee injury in training two days before the FA Cup clash with Arsenal last month.

He is currently dividing his time between North End and parent club Middlesbrough doing his rehabilitation work.

Lilywhites boss Grayson admitted it was initially feared that Baptiste’s injury was a season-ending one.

However, the damage was not as bad and a return to training with the PNE squad should come this month.

“Once we knew what the injury was, I said it would be weeks rather than months and he is making good progress,” said Grayson.

“We will hopefully see Baps back in training with us very soon.

“At the moment Baps is up in Middlesbrough a day or two a week because he is their player and they want to keep their eye on him.

“The majority of the work is being done here.

“It is frustrating when any player gets injured and this happening in training just makes it a bit worse.

“He just fell awkwardly in training taking a first touch.

“The way it happened and the way he went down, we all thought it was a going to be a long-term injury which would rule him out for the rest of the season.

“That is what we feared but the results we got back showed it was not long-term.

“Baps is stepping up his progress and hopefully will be back with us soon.”

Updating the progress of North End’s other casualties, there was some mixed news from Grayson.

There has been a setback for John Welsh as he recovers from a torn calf suffered back in October.

But Calum Woods took a big step forward yesterday in his rehabilitation from knee ligament damage.

He ran for the first time on the training pitch, all his work previously having been done in the gym.

Woods tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial ligament in his right knee in a friendly at Oldham in July.

Said Grayson: “There have been good signs from Calum, he saw the specialist this week and yesterday for the first time was back outside on the grass doing some running.

“That was a big thing for him psychologically and he got a big round of applause from the other lads.

“The lads were really pleased to see him back out there with Matt Jackson.

“It is early stages in a long process of getting back but it was great to see.

“If he keeps progressing we might get him training with the lads by the back end of the season but it is not something we will rush.”