Football must be on back boiler says Preston North End captain Tom Clarke

Preston North End skipper Tom Clarke is ‘eager’ to get back playing football but says such ambitions are very much secondary to people’s health and well-being during the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 6:00 am

It is four weeks tomorrow since the Lilywhites last kicked a ball, that the 3-1 defeat to Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale.

No one is under any illusion that the break in the fixture list will stretch for weeks – if not months – to come.

Clarke said: “Everyone is eager to get this season finished.

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Club captain Tom Clarke

“From our point of view I have seen at first hand how hard the lads and staff have worked this season to get to where we are, so we want to see the season out.

“It’s up to the governing bodies to get a plan in place and go forward. At the moment the only priority is health and keeping everyone safe – stick to the guidelines.”

PNE had hit a sticky patch before the shutdown, losing three games on the bounce and four of the last five.

However, that had followed a strong run of form during January and early February.

They are in sixth place, a point ahead of Bristol City in seventh.

Clarke told talkSport: “The lads have done tremendous this season.

“We have been in the play-off positions for most of the season and that has taken a lot of hard work.

“It’s been a tough season but hopefully we will get a chance to carry it on.”

The North End players are keeping in trim at home, with them working to individual fitness programmes given to them by the club’s fitness coach Tom Little.

They have also got advice on diet and nutrition for during the lockdown.

While it is not difficult to stick with the fitness regime, there is the uncertainty of how long this will all go on for.

Said Clarke: “We are all keeping fit at the moment but there is no endgame in 
terms of what is going to happen.

“We are ticking over and don’t know yet if we will have a chance for a mini pre-season of say two or three weeks, or whether we will go straight back in so that we can get the season wrapped up.

“This is a really strange situation but all you can is adapt to it the best you can.

“Thankfully we have got a fitness coach who is sending us stuff to do to keep fit and stay in shape.”

Clarke, 32, has been limited to 11 appearances this season due to a knee injury and the form of others.

In the main he has been used as cover at right-back, with his last appearance being in the February 15 home defeat against Millwall.

The defender is out of contract in the summer.