Simon Grayson is confident that Preston can maintain their promotion push without injured top scorer Joe Garner, declaring ‘We are not a one-man team’.
Garner is facing up to four months on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee injury during Saturday’s win at Bristol City.
Tendons have come away from the bone, an injury which the surgeon treating him has never seen in a professional sportsman before.
Although 12-goal Garner had to come off at half-time at Ashton Gate, the injury was not feared to be so severe. However, he underwent scans on Monday and yesterday which revealed the extent of the damage.
He was due to have surgery today.
In a double blow, Callum Robinson’s loan spell at Deepdale came to an end yesterday when Aston Villa recalled him to Villa Park – they want him in their first-team squad after loaning out Darren Bent.
Robinson had been due to feature in PNE’s visit to Oldham in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last night before Villa summoned him back.
He said his farewells at Boundary Park before heading to the Midlands.
On a happier note, North End beat the Latics 10-9 in a penalty shoot-out after the game produced a 2-2 draw.
Goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann scored the winning penalty after his Oldham counterpart Neil Etheridge had missed at 9-9.
PNE boss Grayson will now look for replacements in the loan market for Garner and Robinson ahead of tomorrow’s loan deadline.
Grayson said: “Joe went for a couple of scans and the outcome is that he has suffered a tendon injury, it has come away from the bone. He will be out for three or four months which is a massive blow to him and us, a huge blow.
“But we are not a one-man team. As much as we will miss Joe, we have got strength in depth with other players who will get opportunities now.
“I got a phone call at 3pm yesterday afternoon from Aston Villa to recall Callum.
“It was a double whammy in 24 hours to lose two fantastic players, but you always know that is the risk of loan players.
“Once a player has gone past 28 days of his loan period, you are vulnerable to his parent club asking for him back.
“Villa have looked at their team and need goals.
“They have looked at a kid who has been outstanding.
“Callum has been a pleasure to work with. He was a real gem that we found and he has done well for us.
“If he doesn’t break into the team, I will be ringing Paul Lambert again.
“But we can’t affect what has happened, so we move on.
“It is down to me to recruit another player or two, maybe three possibly.
“We also have players coming back, Andy Little is not far away, Kyel Reid played 90 minutes last night.
“Fans shouldn’t be too despondent, thinking it is the end of the world, the end of our campaign.
“We are very much in the mix and hopefully the next 48 hours will show our intent.”
Grayson admitted Garner’s injury came as a nasty shock.
He said: “It was a surprise. Even on Monday morning he had come in and was bending it.
“Because the tendons had come away he was able to move it and was pain free.
“The surgeon says he has never seen an injury like this with any professional athlete.”