PNE ace close to squad return

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson talks to  Paul Gallagher after the midfielder is substituted against Wolves
Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson talks to Paul Gallagher after the midfielder is substituted against Wolves
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Paul Gallagher is closing-in on a return to the Preston squad after more than a month out injured.

The midfielder returned to training on Christmas Day and could come into contention for the New Year’s Eve clash against Sheffield Wednesday.

Gallagher, 32, has been out of action since damaging a calf muscle during the goalless draw with Wolves on November 19.

PNE boss Simon Grayson told the Evening Post: “Gally trained for the first time since the injury on Christmas Day.

“With a few more sessions under his belt, he might be available for the weekend.

“Knowing Gally, he probably wanted to play on Boxing Day.

“But with him having been out for four or five weeks, that would have been difficult.

“It is important we get a full week’s training into him and see where we go from there.”

Gallagher has missed six games, North End having won two, drawn two and lost two.

Having his creativity back available would be a big boost as the Lilywhites look to respond to Boxing Day’s 4-1 home defeat to Leeds.

Another player who PNE hope to have available for Saturday is Aiden McGeady.

The on-loan winger missed the Leeds game with a calf injury, his place in the side going to Marnick Vermijl.

Said Grayson: “Geads had a slight calf strain in the early part of last week.

“It was too much of a risk to play him on Boxing Day.

“Had he played and made it worse, it could have turned into an injury which would keep him out for five or six games.

“Like with Gally, we will assess him as the week goes on and hopefully he will be available for the weekend.”

McGeady has been in and out of the team of late.

A tweaked groin muscle kept him out of the win over Blackburn, with him then an unused substitute against Nottingham Forest.

He returned to action at Bristol City before Christmas and played 80 minutes of that.

Saturday’s game will be the first of Jermaine Beckford’s four-match suspension.

The striker was sent-off for violent conduct against Leeds, having kicked-out at Kyle Bartley three minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Violent conduct carries a three-game ban, with him getting an extra match as it was his second red of the season.

Meanwhile, Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan were due back with the PNE squad today ahead of their moves from Dundalk becoming official on January 1.

The pair trained with their new team-mates for a couple of days before Christmas before returning home.

Their deals will be registered when the transfer window opens, with international clearance also required.

As long as that comes through, they will be available for the visit to Burton Albion on Monday afternoon.

Tom Barkhuizen will also be eligible to face Burton after his move from Morecambe.