Preston North End manager Alex Neil gives a fitness update ahead of Championship trip to Birmingham City

Preston manager Alex Neil
Preston manager Alex Neil

Preston North End manager Alex Neil expects to have the majority of his squad available for Saturday's Championship clash with Birmingham City at St Andrew's.

Ben Pearson should return after missing the 2-0 victory over Brentford because of a virus.

Neil was able to give a run out to a number of the squad in Tuesday night's Lancashire Senior Cup win at Chorley, including Andrew Hughes and David Nugent who were returning from hamstring and calf injuries respectively.

Speaking at Springfields on Thursday morning, Neil said: "We should be in decent shape and have the majority of our players available apart from Tom Clarke and Louis Moult.

"Other than that, the rest of the lads look like they are okay.

"Ben Pearson should be okay, his first training day back is today."

Striker Moult had surgery on Monday to repair the cruciate ligament in his left knee which he damaged against Swansea City in August.

The 27-year-old was back at the training ground on crutches this morning.

Neil said: "It's the start for Louis, before he got the operation he was still waiting to start recovering - he wasn't over the hurdle of it being fixed and repaired.

"The road back starts now and he can focus initially on healing so he can start moving it and once the mobility comes he can start to pick it up.

"He had to wait to have the operation while the swelling went down - when you get an injury that bad the knee just blows up with swelling.

"You have to let it settle so that when the surgeon goes in they can see what the actual issues are and fix them.

"It went well, they had to do slightly more than they thought but it doesn't really impact the healing time."

Skipper Clarke has been missing since limping out of the 3-1 win over Stoke last month with a knee problem.

But the defender is not too far off a return.

Neil said: "Tom has had a few injections into the knee to solidify the ligament.

"He has been straight-line running out on the grass so I'm hoping a couple of weeks for him."