PNE had to box clever to get Joe fit for Hull match

Joe Garner sports a black eye
Joe Garner sports a black eye
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Joe Garner’s treatment for an eye injury which got him fit for Preston’s win over Hull was more akin to that received by a boxer in the corner of the boxing ring.

The striker was caught in the face by a stray elbow against Huddersfield on Boxing Day, that causing his right eye to swell and close completely.

It left his involvement for Monday’s game at Deepdale in big doubt.

However, treatment to reduce the swelling and get the eye open sufficiently, saw him make the starting line-up.

The fact he was able to play was a big bonus to Simon Grayson, the Lilywhites boss having feared Garner did not have a chance of being fit.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “After the game on Boxing Day, Joe couldn’t see out of his right eye.

“It was completely swollen up and bruised and we didn’t think he had a cat in hell’s chance of playing against Hull.

“Joe spent a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday suffering pain and getting the swelling down – the sort of treatment which a boxer gets.

“Thankfully all that work paid off and we were able to get him out there on the pitch.”

While Garner cursed a missed sitter in the first half against Hull – blazing a shot from close range too high – he was his usual busy self in the North End forward line.

It was the 27-year-old who was fouled for the free-kick which led to Paul Gallagher’s winning goal.

Grayson said: “Despite the eye injury, Joe went out with no fear in him and was looking to get involved in everything.

“He loves that rough and tumble side of the game and I thought he led the line unbelievably well.

“The two lads around him, Adam Reach and Will Keane, were bright and energetic, while the midfield players behind them did what they needed to.

“All round, it was a very good performance from us and was the big reaction which we needed after losing in the way we did at Huddersfield.”

After the quick turnaround between the games on Boxing Day and Monday, the clear few days ahead of facing Rotherham on Saturday have been welcomed by Grayson.

He was down to 18 fit senior players against Hull, with Paul Huntington failing a fitness test on a tight hamstring three hours before the game.

His place went to Bailey Wright who played despite being under the weather because of illness.

“We haven’t got the biggest of squads, so Hunts being injured and Alan Browne too, left us a bit stretched,” said Grayson.

“It is nice to have a bit of time before playing Rotherham, hopefully that will allow one or two injuries to clear up and all the lads can get a bit of rest ahead of the weekend.”

Rotherham come to Preston on the back of a mixed bag of form, three straight defeats having been followed by home wins over Hull and Bolton.

On Tuesday night, Neil Redfearn’s side were beaten 4-1 by Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Said Grayson: “It will be a different type of game than it was on Monday.

“Our aim is to follow up the win and outstanding performance against Hull with another three points.

“We will do our recovery sessions and get ourselves ready for that one.”