Midfield disruption ahead again for Preston North End boss Alex Neil

It will be one out and one back in terms of midfield bans for Preston against Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 6:00 am
Ben Pearson is available after suspension for Preston's game against Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale

The start of Ryan Ledson’s four-match suspension for his red card at Wigan coincides with Ben Pearson returning after three games out.

However, Pearson will have to walk another disciplinary tightrope on his return.

He is on 14 bookings for the season and one more would trigger a three-game ban.

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That would carry over to the start of next season, as Ledson has found to his cost.

Red cards have dogged the Lilywhites this season.

Between them, Pearson and Ledson have collected five of the eight sendings-off the squad have had.

Pearson’s third red card came in the 2-0 defeat to Leeds at Deepdale on April 9.

On Easter Monday, Ledson was dismissed in the first half for a high challenge on Wigan midfielder Kal Naismith.

Having been sent off in the League Cup at Leeds earlier in the season, the usual three-game ban for a straight red card was increased to four.

Had Ledson stayed on the pitch at Wigan, there would have been a strong argument for him starting in preference to Pearson for the last two games of the campaign.

That would have ruled out the risk of Pearson picking up another ban for bookings.

Ledson’s latest suspension means this season is over for him, while he will miss the first two games of 2019/20 too.

He had caught the eye in Pearson’s absence and a run in the team would have helped his development.

Pearson has missed 13 games through suspension this season – 10 of those down to red cards, while he has had a one-game and a two-game ban for reaching five and 10 bookings respectively.

Alan Browne being injured has also led to the PNE 
midfield being under-staffed.

Browne pushed himself to get back from two torn ankle ligaments in less than four weeks, allowing him to face Sheffield United, Leeds and West Bromwich.

The Irishman did not look fully fit in the three games and was rested over Easter.

In order to have midfield cover in the squad, youngster Adam O’Reilly was named on the bench against Ipswich and Wigan.

After five defeats in the last six games, PNE need points from the last two games – a visit to Brentford a week on Sunday rounds things off.

North End manager Alex Neil thinks one or two of the younger players have found things catching up with them of late.

Neil said: “We have a lot of young players learning their trade as they go along.

“There are parts of the game which they have to learn quickly and that has been highlighted of late.”