Preston could be boosted by the return of strikers Louis Moult and Callum Robinson in the very near future
Alex Neil is looking forward to having Louis Moult and Callum Robinson back available sooner rather than later.
The Preston North End pair are both expected to return in the middle of March after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Robinson has been out since the end of November having raced to 10 goals in a flying start to the season.
The versatile forward limped out of the 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale with a hamstring injury that then required surgery.
Striker Moult has had hamstring problems of his own, being named on the bench at Stoke on January 26 after just over a month out only to break down in the warm-up.
“The two of them are on the grass running and both of them are making good progress,” said Neil.
“But naturally they have been out for quite a length of time and we’ll need to be careful as we try to get them back up to speed.
“Callum will be like when Sean Maguire has come back before. Naturally because of what he’s done for us there’ll be excitement surrounding his return.
“But to be fair Louis gives us another really good option too, he’s got five goals this season and has been productive for us.
“We’re looking forward to getting both of them back and that will only strengthen the squad which is great.”
Both were in top form before their injuries.
Robinson was having his best season to date while Moult had seemingly found his groove after a stop-start 12 months after his move from Motherwell.
“He was getting a run of games together and a couple of goals,” Neil said of his No.9.
“Louis’ had to adapt his game to play in the manner we play which is naturally going to take a little bit of time.
“But I think just before his injury we were starting to see the best of him. It was really unfortunate for him that he got injured at that point.”
The pair will be the latest to return to the fold this season after lengthy absences.
Sean Maguire’s comeback in January came when PNE were right up against but Neil is pleased that Robinson and Moult should be fit again at a time when there is less pressure on them to hit the ground running.
“The one danger you’ve got when results haven’t been going that great is you can over-expose players because you’re desperate to get them back in so they can hopefully make an impact,” said the PNE boss.
“We’ve got the luxury hopefully that by the time these two lads are back that we’re in a good position and we can ease them in rather than having to give them a heavy load and rely on them to get us out of a sticky situation.”