Careful planning goes into PNE ace’s return

John Welsh returned from a minor hamstring injury in the defeat at Ipswich
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Preston stalwart John Welsh insists his stop-start campaign was fully expected after 11 months on the sidelines.

The tough-tackling Scouser returned from his torn calf picked up at Brighton back in October 2016 when he came off the bench in the Deepdale draw with Barnsley at the start of September.

The 33-year-old then featured in five straight Championship games but since September 26, has only appeared twice – as a substitute as PNE were pegged back at Fulham and then from the start in the 3-0 defeat at Ipswich last time out.

“It was forecast it was going to be a bit like that,” said Welsh, who came back in at Portman Road after struggling with a sore hamstring.

“After being out for so long and then coming back into the team, you need a bit to get going. It tends to happen when you’ve been out for so long.

“The first couple of games you’re okay, you get through them, and then it’s the sixth and the seventh games that you start getting little niggles and a bit tight and it catches up with you a bit.

“Obviously I’m no spring chicken and it just takes a while for your muscles to get back into the swing of things.

“You want to be training every day but sometimes you have to calm down and go with physio Matt Jackson for a couple of days, especially if you’re getting little niggles and stuff.”

For Welsh, and the PNE squad as a whole, the international break looks to have come at the perfect time.

After a fine start, Alex Neil’s men have lost four in a row ahead of their return to action against Bolton on November 17.

Seven defenders are battling their way back from various injuries, with Sean Maguire also having surgery on a hamstring problem this week.

With some players being thrown into action having not played much football this season, there are differing aims throughout the North End squad during the international break however.

“All in all it’s probably a good time,” said Welsh.

“Some people need rest and some people need to work hard so you get a bit of a split in the group.

“There are lads who’ve played a lot of games who need the rest to get their legs back and then there are lads who haven’t played as much as they would have liked, so it’s a chance to get a bit of hard work into them and a bit of match fitness.

“Results haven’t been the best of late and a little break might do us a bit of good to be honest. We can work on things that we need to focus on.

“In all it gives us 10 days to look forward to the Bolton game.”

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