Luton game came just too soon for Preston defender Darnell Fisher
Alex Neil says Darnell Fisher wasn’t in Preston North End’s starting XI against Luton Town due to an injury in the build-up to the restart.
Fisher was named on the bench at Kenilworth Road, with Alan Browne playing in the right-back slot.
Browne was impressive on the right before moving into midfield later in the game when Fisher came on as a substitute.
Fisher’s training time had been limited of late by a groin injury and Neil felt it sensible not to throw him straight back into action.
North End manager Neil said: “Darnell hadn’t had the minutes, he wasn’t able to play in the friendlies we arranged.
“He hurt his groin in one of the sessions we put on, so didn’t play against Wigan or against Burnley.
“Darnell also missed a couple of in-house games we had between ourselves, so he wasn’t quite ready.
“It is important we get him up to speed, we got him on the pitch at Luton.
“He’d done some training and isn’t that far away from where we want him to be.”
Although Browne played as a right-back for a handful of games earlier in the season, he was still a surprise starter in that role at Luton.
He got the nod ahead of Joe Rafferty who travelled with the squad but didn’t make the bench.
Neil said: “I thought Alan was excellent at right-back.
“He played there against Burnley last week and was one of the best players on the pitch in that one.
“I had absolutely no issues with him playing there.
“Luton played a diamond so I wanted to be aggressive down the right and left where we got some room.
“If you are a good player you can adapt and Alan is a very good player.
“He has the legs, athleticism and an understanding of the game – he knows when to go and when to tuck round. Alan is a quality footballer.”
Neil, meantime, has given a fitness update on Tom Bayliss and club skipper Tom Clarke.
Bayliss was at Luton but didn’t make the bench and Clarke missed the trip.
Said Neil: “Tom Bayliss is fine but he’s been recovering from injury.
“He’s trained for a couple of weeks and played against Wigan but is still on the mend because of the amount of time he’s been out for.
“Tom is relatively up to speed and not far away.”
With regards to Clarke, Neil added: “Tom has been struggling with his knee over the last week or so, that is why he wasn’t involved.”
North End are next in action on Saturday (12.30pm) when they face Cardiff City at Deepdale. The sides are level on points, PNE’s goal difference one goal better than that of the Bluebirds.