Dilemma for Preston North End boss over yellow-card risk for Ben Pearson

Preston midfielder Ben Pearson with Lilywhites manager Alex Neil
Preston midfielder Ben Pearson with Lilywhites manager Alex Neil

Alex Neil admits he might have to take the risk of playing Ben Pearson in Preston’s midfield against Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale tomorrow.

Pearson is available after serving a three-match ban for his third red card of the season.

However, there will be a yellow warning hanging over him if he plays against the Owls, and indeed at Brentford on the final day.

The 24-year-old is on 14 bookings for the campaign and one more would trigger a three-game ban which would carry over into next season.

Neil’s midfield options are limited at the moment.

A four-game suspension for his red card at Wigan rules Ryan Ledson out.

Alan Browne missed the two Easter matches with an ankle injury, while Brad Potts has not played since limping out of the Birmingham game six weeks ago.

PNE boss Neil said: “This has been playing on my mind. If I’m being honest I probably wouldn’t have played Ben in the next two games.

“At the moment I haven’t really got any other option.

“Ben has talked about wanting to be more mature and we want him to be more mature.

“He’s got these two games to show us that maturity and if he does pick up a booking he is going to let himself and let us down.

“Ben is a key player for us but has missed 13 games just through suspension.

“When you take injuries into account, he will probably have missed 18 games, which is far too many.”

Whether Neil gets any of his walking wounded back in time for tomorrow, remains to be seen.

“We are not quite sure yet with where we are up to, we’ll know more today after we’ve trained” said Neil. He is keen to win the final home game and so could well limit any 
experimenting with the 
starting XI.

He has started Joe Rafferty in the last two games and had Josh Ginnelly come off the bench in the last three.

Said Neil: “I want to win the game first and foremost. I’ve got to try and put out the best team available to go and win.

“It’s okay giving someone an opportunity but you don’t want to be standing on the side of the pitch not having won.

“My priority is to win but there are things I would like to look at.

“I know all these players inside out from working with them every day.

“This has felt like a long season because we’ve had a lot to contend with, there have been peaks and troughs.

“We will go into these last two games looking to finish strongly, get prepped and ready for next season.

“It would be great to get a win at home, send the fans off happy.”