Break’s come at right time for PNE boss Neil

Darnell Fisher leaves the pitch with Preston physio Matt Jackson after suffering a groin strain
Darnell Fisher leaves the pitch with Preston physio Matt Jackson after suffering a groin strain

Alex Neil hopes the arrival of the international break can provide some respite for his injury-ravaged Preston squad.

Darnell Fisher and Sean Maguire are the latest to join the casualty list, Republic of Ireland striker Maguire set to be sidelined for as long as four months.

Maguire will have surgery this week to repair a severe hamstring injury – the muscle is believed to have come away from a tendon.

It is a similar procedure to the one Greg Cunningham is currently working his way back from.

Maguire saw a specialist at the end of last week, having played against Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

North End boss Neil says the striker’s absence will be the ‘best part of three to four months’.

Right-back Fisher went off during the first half of PNE’s 3-0 defeat to Ipswich because of a groin strain.

Neil said: “Darnell went for a tackle, stretched for it and exerted his groin.

“It was unfortunate and he couldn’t carry on.”

Maguire’s problems began when he pulled up at Fulham with a tight hamstring.

He only missed one game, returning to play against Brentford and Villa.

“That one is devastating for us,” said Neil .

“Sean has got the same injury as Greg Cunningham which means he is going to require surgery and will be out for the best part of three or four months.”

Neil has again stressed that the injuries picked up are not down to the squad’s workload.

He said: “Apart from the one for Darnell, these are not soft-tissue injuries.

“It is not as if they are 
being over-trained or doing too much or their loads are not being looked at.

“A lot of these are contact injuries which require surgery – in one case it is someone having their appendix out.

“They are injuries which we can’t do anything about.”

Neil was disappointed with PNE’s display at Ipswich.

He had opted for a change of approach in that the high press was not in operation.

Said Neil: “It is hard to press Ipswich because they don’t take touches at the back.

“I don’t think it was anything to do with pressing – our use of the ball let us down.

“When it dropped in the middle areas of the pitch, it was about being brave enough under pressure.

“The way Ipswich play, they turn the ball forward and lock on to you.

“If you try and take a touch, they look to nick it and 
counter-attack on you.

“What you need is that bit of quality to take a touch and try and play through them.

“We didn’t do that, which was disappointing.

“There wasn’t a lot of 
quality from either side.”