Alex Neil was relieved to get Sean Maguire back unscathed from international duty and hopes the striker is ready to play his part in firing Preston up the Championship.
Striker Maguire joined up with the Republic of Ireland having played only 20 minutes of first-team football for PNE this season because of damage to his hamstring.
The 24-year-old returned to Springfields on Thursday with another half-hour under his belt, having come on as a sub in the Republic’s 1-0 Nations League defeat to Wales.
North End manager Neil told the Post: “To be fair to the Republic of Ireland they were very accommodating of us.
“We spoke at length with them before Sean went over there because he had been out for a sustained period of time.
“What we didn’t want was his body getting abused with doing too much training and too much game-time.
“They assured us that they would look after him and did just that.
“The Republic of Ireland want Sean fit as much as we do and they were as good as their word.
“Where we are as a club, we need our key players out there on the pitch.
“When we miss our key players, like Sean, it is going to affect us. We need our players fit and firing, Sean being back is good for us.”
Neil reasons that injuries are an occupational hazard in competitive sport and there is a limit to how much can be done to prevent them.
Comebacks are monitored closely, as Maguire’s has been, but some injuries cannot be prevented as Neil is only too aware.
“You don’t want to force players back too quickly so that they break down,” said the Deepdale boss.
“If you do that, all that hard work by the player, by us, by everyone, is wasted.
“What I can say is that in football you can’t stop certain things from happening.
“Billy Bodin’s injury was a prime example.
“We were doing a passing drill, Billy had no one near him and he has done his knee.
“You can only protect the players so much.
“Josh Harrop too, if you look at his injury he’d had a good warm-up and come on.
“He shifted his feet to go past a couple of players and just as he played his pass he over-stretched and his knee has gone as well.
“That is two ACL injuries in quite a short period of time.
“It’s quite a tough balance between not being over-protective and not being silly .
“That balance is usually one you strike really well but we have been unfortunate at times with bad injuries.”
Harrop underwent surgery to repair his ruptured cruciate ligament on Wednesday and will start his rehab next week.