Simon Grayson has urged Preston North End supporters not to expect ‘miracles’ from Jermaine Beckford after he made his long-awaited return from knee surgery.
The striker came on as an 85th minute substitute in the 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale.
Beckford, 32, had been out of action for more than six months after having microfracture surgery to repair damaged knee cartilage – an injury he initially suffered in a pre-season friendly.
PNE boss Grayson decided the time was right for the front man to return after he came through 50 minutes of a bounce game in training.
During the international break, Beckford is set to feature in two behind closed doors friendlies to help sharpen up his fitness.
Grayson said: “It was great to get Jermaine back on the pitch and it gave everyone at the club a big boost.
“There was no way that I was going to play him for any longer than the few minutes he got at the end.
“Towards the end of last week I spoke at length with the physios about it and they said not to do anything daft.
“I gave them my word that I would not do anything that would risk ruling him out for the rest of the season.
“Jermaine has worked hard to get back, he is looking lean, fit and strong but we still have to be careful with him.
“Don’t expect miracles that he is going to play the next nine games and be involved in everything.
“It is just nice to have him back in among the squad.
“We will have a couple of practice matches during the international break for him and some of the other lads.”
Beckford got himself in the thick of the action against QPR as North End chased a late equaliser – one which Eoin Doyle supplied 90 seconds into stoppage-time.
He even got a yellow card after a tangle with visiting defender Gabriele Angella who was also booked.
Grayson, reflecting on the six months without Beckford, said: “When he went in for the operation we knew it was going to be a long one because of the severity of what he had done.
“Given his age and extent of the injury, we had to be careful not to rush him back.
“He has probably taken a little while longer to get back.
“It was a similar injury to what Jordan Hugill had last season. Jordan got back about a month earlier than Jermaine did, that is probably down to Jermaine’s age.”
Looking back at Saturday’s game, Grayson felt a draw was the least PNE deserved.
Sebastian Polter headed the visitors in front early on, a lead they kept until Doyle headed his second goal in a week.
Grayson admitted that skipper Tom Clarke had been fortunate to escape a red card for tugging back Tjaronn Chery in the 81st minute.
He said: “Maybe I was surprised Tom didn’t go, although there was a handball before. The ref made a rod for his own back with some strange decisions for both sides.”