Alex Neil admits it would be ‘too simplistic’ to put Preston’s injury woes down to bad luck as he strives to pinpoint what has caused Deepdale’s lengthy casualty list.
Nine players look set to be sidelined for tomorrow’s home clash with Aston Villa, eight of them injured.
Centre-half Ben Davies was the latest to join the queue to see the physio when he strained his hamstring in the Boxing Day defeat to Hull City.
His place will go to Jordan Storey against Villa, Storey having impressed coming off the bench in the Hull game.
North End manager Neil said: “Our work load pretty much mirrors last season, if anything it is slightly down.
“Maybe during the injury spell last year we worked them a little bit too hard.
“Our fitness levels are good, in the later parts of the games we have a good record of scoring goals.
“We have a young team which naturally means they are fit and can get up and down the pitch.
“We have studied all this at length, it has been a big source of discussion with us for a few weeks now.
“I think it is too simplistic to put it down to bad fortune but there is not something glaring and standing out.
“Our distances covered in games isn’t significantly more than last year.
“What we’ll do now is go again and get the lads who are available ready for the next batch of games.”
The majority of Preston’s injuries in recent weeks have involved hamstrings.
Callum Robinson, Sean Maguire, Brandon Barker, Louis Moult and now Davies, are all nursing issues with that part of their anatomy.
Davies’ injury is not seen at this stage as being anything of a long-term issue.
He pulled-up in the 34th minute of Wednesday’s game, with Storey proving a more than capable replacement.
Another player to come off the bench against Hull, Ryan Ledson, is another player who is likely to start tomorrow.
He gave a presence to the midfield in the second half and that will be needed against an in-form Villa outfit.
Looking ahead to the clash with Dean Smith’s men, Neil said: “Villa are a good side.
“They will probably come with a front three of Tammy Abraham, Jonathan Kodjia and Yannick Bolasie.
“If you put those three in the market you are looking at £50m-£60m – Bolaise went for £20m by himself.
“It’s certainly not going to be an easy game and when you are not at full strength it makes it difficult.
“But we showed character at their place and we will go into this one in an optimistic manner.
“In games at this level there is not a lot between the sides.
“The games we have lost this season have generally been by the odd goal.
“We will be ready for this one, there should be a good atmosphere and we will have to take our chances.”