Options open up for PNE boss

Preston midfielder John Welsh is inching his way back from a calf injury
Preston midfielder John Welsh is inching his way back from a calf injury
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Preston manager Simon Grayson is edging closer to having a fully-stocked squad at his disposal.

The Springfields treatment room has been steadily emptying over the last few weeks.

Jermaine Beckford, Aiden McGeady and Marnick Vermijl have all made their comebacks of late after being out with hamstring injuries.

Ben Pearson has completed a one-match suspension for five yellow cards, while Stevie May is edging his way back to fitness following almost a year on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.

Midfielder John Welsh should be back soon from the torn calf muscle which he suffered in last month’s draw at Brighton.

Although the Wolves game on Saturday might come a bit too soon for Welsh, he could be back for Burton’s visit to Deepdale a week later.

The 32-year-old had forced his way back into the side in the weeks before his injury.

Alan Browne has one more game of a three-match ban to serve for his red card against Newcastle in the League Cup.

That would leave only Calum Woods on the absent list, the defender out for the season after knee surgery.

The fixture schedule is not so intense for the next few weeks – compared to a busy September and October – with Saturday-to-Saturday games only for the next few weeks.

Ideally though, Grayson wants as many options as possible as Preston look to maintain their good form.

Things do pick up during the middle of December though, with a midweek trip to Nottingham Forest in between the derby clash with Blackburn and the visit to Bristol City.

The recent returns of Beckford, McGeady and Vermijl have been a boost. McGeady went straight back into the team at Rotherham a week last Saturday.

He got a few minutes of action as a substitute in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 win against Austria in Vienna at the weekend.

Beckford and Vermijl have been eased back from the bench, both coming on as substitutes in the Newcastle and Rotherham matches.

Both played in an in-house game at the training ground last week to give their match sharpness a boost – a game which also featured May.

The Scottish striker has had a couple of tastes of action now, and it is a case of slowly but surely in his return from tearing three ligaments in his right knee.

He suffered that injury on November 28 last year against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

A chance for May to step up his recovery could come in a couple of weeks when North End face Bolton in a Lancashire Cup tie at Leyland’s County Ground.

PNE will resume action this weekend on the back of a good run of form in the league which has seen them win five, draw two and lose one of their last eight games.

Said Grayson: “We are on a good run and will be working hard to try and continue that.

“The international break came after a busy spell and has allowed us to do some more work, mixed in with a few days off here and there.

“We have two games at Deepdale coming up after the break and then we are into December when it gets busy again. It is a spell of games to look forward to.”