Arsenal loanee ready to give PNE a selection boost

Stephy Mavididi could return to the PNE squad at Burton on Saturday
Stephy Mavididi could return to the PNE squad at Burton on Saturday

Preston should have Stephy Mavididi back from injury for Saturday’s trip to Burton but might have to wait for Calum Woods.

Both have been sidelined with hamstring injuries, with Mavididi’s absence coming on the back of two starts.

The Arsenal loanee missed the games against Norwich and Queens Park Rangers but has been back in training.

Defender Woods pulled up in training last week, forcing him out of the win over QPR.

North End boss Alex Neil said: “Stephy has trained this week and I expect him to be fit for the weekend.

“As long as he comes through the rest of the week, he should be fine.

“Stephy had tweaked his hamstring a little bit.

“That was probably down to the fact he had not played in a lot of games and then had a few together – he played for England Under-20s and then successive games for us.

“That took it’s toll on his body a bit but hopefully he will be fine.”

Mavididi was used up front in Jordan Hugill’s absence against Bolton last month.

He then started the 2-1 win over Bristol City alongside Hugill as Neil opted to play two strikers.

It was early in the second half at Ashton Gate that the 19-year-old got the injury and had to be substituted.

Neil was more reserved about Woods’ hopes of being on the bus to Burton.

“We will have to monitor Calum as the week goes on,” said Neil.

“I think that one will be a late decision but we’ve still got a bit of time.”

One player definitely back available for the Burton game is Daniel Johnson.

The midfielder missed the QPR victory as he was serving a one-match suspension for five yellow cards.

Slowly, more options are becoming available to Neil as the queue for the treatment room shortens.

However, patience will be needed for a while longer with some of the walking wounded.

Said Neil: “We’ve got a bit of a way to go with some of them.

“Greg Cunningham who was our No.1 left-back at the start of the season, hasn’t been available for a large part.

“Josh Earl who took Greg’s place, had surgery last week and will take a few weeks to get back.

“We’ve got Sean Maguire who was so influential, in the same boat.

“Tommy Spurr has had knee surgery, so there you have four key players who aren’t available to us yet.

“People sometimes forget about these lads because they have been out of the limelight day in and day out.

“But we see the lads every day and see how hard they work behind the scenes.

“It will be nice when we get them back.”