PNE armband’s up for grabs

PNE midfielder Ben Pearson challenges Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey in the FA Cup clash at Deepdale
PNE midfielder Ben Pearson challenges Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey in the FA Cup clash at Deepdale
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A decision for Simon Grayson during pre-season will be who wears the Preston captain’s armband in the forthcoming campaign.

With skipper Tom Clarke out injured until the New Year, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod.

Current skipper Tom Clarke is out injured until next year

Current skipper Tom Clarke is out injured until next year

John Welsh was captain before Clarke earlier in his PNE career and still does some of the off-field skipper duties.

But Welsh missed most of last season with a torn calf muscle and was not available when Clarke (right) was injured.

Clarke tore his Achilles tendon in April’s clash with Huddersfield.

In the following two games, Paul Gallagher was named skipper.

When he was sent off in the 4-1 defeat at Newcastle and handed a one-game ban, the armband was given to Aiden McGeady for the home clash with Rotherham.

That was the first time in his career that McGeady had captained a team.

For the final game of the season at Wolves, Gallagher was back as skipper.

Gallagher would appear to be in pole position to get the nod this season.

However, there are others in the frame for the job until Clarke gets back.

Paul Huntington and Greg Cunningham have plenty of experience and appearances under their belts, Huntington having worn the armband 
after Gallagher was sent off at Newcastle.

Another option, if slightly left-field, would be midfielder Ben Pearson.

Vocal in the extreme on the pitch – sometimes too much for the liking of referees – the role could just suit him.

If Pearson knew he was the team’s official mouthpiece on the pitch, it might calm him down slightly and give a legitimate reason for him to speak to the referee.

Skipper or not, Pearson will look to cut out the yellow cards this season having been booked 16 times in 2016/17.

Whoever is chosen to be skipper does have big shoes to fill, Clarke having done the job with distinction.

A popular figure on and off the pitch, he leads by example and was sorely missed in those last few games as PNE finished the season on a flat note.

When Clarke was injured, his absence was estimated to be anywhere between eight and 10 months.

Hopefully it will be the shorter of the two but he will still need time to recover his full sharpness once he returns to action.