Boss Alex Neil taking safety-first approach to Preston North End right-back Darnell Fisher’s injury

Preston right-back Darnell Fisher
Preston right-back Darnell Fisher

Alex Neil hopes the absence of Darnell Fisher in Preston’s draw at Nottingham Forest will ensure he returns fully fit after the international break.

Lilywhites boss Neil took a long-term view on a hip flexor complaint the right-back has.

Rather than push Fisher through the Forest clash and risk aggravating the injury, he rested him and hopes it will clear up by the time PNE play Brentford on September 14.

It did mean having to put round pegs in square holes, Fisher joining Tom Clarke on the sidelines.

With Joe Rafferty having moved across the pitch to play at left-back in recent games, it was left to Alan Browne to play as an emergency right-back.

Neil told the Post: “Darnell has a hip flexor issue.

“He was touch and go for the Forest game and I had a decision to make. I didn’t want a one-week absence turning into six weeks, so I decided it was best to leave Darnell 
out and take a longer-term view.

“Alan Browne came in and did a great job at right-back, I had no complaints there.

“My job is to get the team ready as best I can and you have to make decisions.”

Fisher travelled with the squad to the City Ground.

The 25-year-old was one of seven players to miss the game through injury.

Clarke, Sean Maguire, Tom Barkhuizen, Andrew Hughes, Louis Moult and David Nugent were the others.

Fisher’s injury, together 
with those of Hughes and Clarke have stretched things in the full-back roles.

Rafferty, a right-back by trade, has filled in at left-back for the last four league games and has done the job well, to be fair to him.

Clarke and Fisher have both operated at right-back.

The knee injury suffered by skipper Clarke is expected to keep him out for between four and six weeks.

Hughes should hopefully be back from his hamstring strain after the break, with his return easing the full-back situation.

Barkhuizen’s absence on Saturday was down to a groin injury he suffered in the first half of the League Cup game against Hull last week.

It was a problem which came as some surprise to Neil.

“For the last two seasons Tom has churned out 30 or 40 games a season,” Neil said.

“So it is quite unlike Tom to be injured at this stage.

“We had been resting him between games to keep him fresh for the next one but he got this groin problem in the Hull game.”

Meanwhile, North End midfielder Daniel Johnson has been shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Month award in the Championship.

Johnson scored four goals, three of them penalties, and provided three assists in his five league starts in August.