Dave Seddon's PNE pressview: Preston new boy Izzy Brown's injury is "rotten luck" for club and player
Rotten luck came the way of Izzy Brown at the start of the week when his Preston North End career stalled before it had really got going.
A ruptured Achilles tendon will need surgery to repair and a long period of convalescence.
The half hour he played in PNE’s friendly at Celtic last week will unfortunately be the last we see of Brown until the Spring.
It was like a punch in the gut when news of the injury Brown had suffered in training, entered into the public domain.
Injuries happen, they are part of top-level sport. The timing for Brown was very cruel though.
The 24-year-old had come to North End to find a home after being on loan seven times in his Chelsea days.
His contract here is just for a year, a type of prove yourself deal – not in terms of his talent which he clearly has, but his ability to put together a consistent run.
Brown will probably have to wait until February/March to start proving himself.
That is working on a six or seven month timescale which an injury of this nature tends to take to come back from.
Patrick Bauer will be able to tell him that, the defender himself just back from the same issue.
Former PNE skipper Tom Clarke was out for a similar period when he tore his Achilles in 2017.
Brown’s Achilles tendon ruptured in the same way many others do, with no one around him.
It went as he made a pass in a possession drill.
Bauer did likewise in the game at Bournemouth last December.
It is not like a recurring hamstring strain or a groin muscle going again. It is a one-off type injury.
An injury happening in pre-season will always be magnified. North End fans will remember back to Billy Bodin’s anterior cruciate ligament going five days before the 2018/19 season.
It seems more of a blow when the real ball is yet to come out, when we are only at the build-up stage.
For the player involved, it is painful whenever such an injury happens, the same rehab will be needed whether it is July or January.
Brown had sat out the first two friendlies against Bamber Bridge and St Johnstone with a slight muscle niggle, before resuming training when the squad were in Scotland.
He was one of seven subs introduced at the hour mark against Celtic, given a taste of the action to get some fitness into his legs.
The plan was for him to have started in Tuesday’s friendly with Bolton before he was dealt the big blow the day before at Euxton.
Brown won’t lack support as his Achilles mends, the North End squad being a close-knit bunch.
They rallied round Bauer last season as he recovered, so too Declan Rudd when he damaged his knee.
Bauer will be there for advice if Brown needs it, he knows what the recovery road is like and where the bumps are.
Where Brown was going to fit into the team had not become clear, however it does create a vacancy in that he’s no longer available for a long spell.
In the 3-5-2 favoured by Frankie McAvoy, the attacking midfield role looked most likely,
I’m not saying Brown would have started the season there when you bear in mind Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Brad Potts can play in the role.
But he would have at least been pushing for a place, with him also an option to play up front off Ched Evans.
Were North End to switch away from the 3-5-2 and move to the diamond which McAvoy also likes, any of the three attacking midfield roles would have suited him.
PNE’s attention is already focused on strengthening at that end of the pitch, this merely sharpens it.
I wish Brown the quickest recovery possible. He spoke with such excitement and enthusiasm when signing, about the challenge of establishing himself here.
It was a big move for him in that he no longer had Chelsea to fall back.
He was now a Preston player, not ‘Chelsea loan man Izzy Brown’ as he had been at Rotherham, Huddersfield, Brighton, Leeds, Luton and Sheffield Wednesday.
North End must plough on without Brown for the next few months.
With the season’s kick-off a fortnight away, how PNE might line-up against Hull on August 7 looks to becoming clearer judging by what we’ve seen in the friendlies to date.
I might end up being totally wrong – something Mrs Seddon frequently tells me –but I’d say at this juncture seven places have been filled.
Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay and Andrew Hughes look well set in the back three, Greg Cunningham too at left wing-back.
Right wing-back is an open book, with Sepp van den Berg – if he doesn’t get a place in the middle – Matt Olosunde and Tom Barkhuizen in with a shout.
Ben Whiteman and Ryan Ledson are building a decent midfield partnership, then there’s the attacking slot in front of them – Browne, Potts and Johnson in contention.
Evans looks first choice up front, then it is a case of who partners him. Things might change, with there being four more friendlies for McAvoy to run the rule over. But that is the direction things seem to be heading in at the moment.
I’ll finish off this week’s offering by expressing how wonderful it was to see so many fans at Leyland on Tuesday for the Bolton clash.
This last year or so, I was one of the lucky ones to have access to live football, But to report from an empty ground was a soulless experience.
For the Scottish games there were a smattering of fans, although 2,000 at the 60,400 capacity Celtic Park hardly made a dent.
To have 2,400 or so a the County Ground was a joy, fans able to enjoy a live game of football at least.
And a huge boost was Deepdale Duck making his return after isolating in the duck pond for the last 16 months. Welcome back!
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