Preston North End’s Ryan Ledson back from four-game ban that turned into four MONTHS out!
Ryan Ledson’s chest-high tackle on Wigan’s Kal Naismith in April certainly had its consequences for the Preston midfielder.
The consequences were to pile up for Ledson, the first being a red card that left North End playing for more than half the clash at the DW Stadium a man light.
Next came a few stern words of rebuke from Alex Neil and then Ledson was hit by a four-game suspension as it was his second dismissal of that season.
The timing for Ledson could not have been worse, with the ban straddling the end of last season and the start of this.
It meant he has had 113 days without a competitive game, albeit a number of those came in the summer break. Ledson had to sit out the final two games of last season and the opening two of the 2019/20 campaign – Wigan ironically the opponents last Saturday as the ban came to an end.
That four months without playing competitively should come to an end when North End cross the Pennines to play Bradford City at Valley Parade in the League Cup.
He had the friendlies in pre-season to get the fitness going but at last Ledson can sharpen his focus for Tuesday night’s clash.
“It’s been a long one, you can say that again,” said Ledson.
“I’m back now and I don’t want to find myself in this position again.
“Personally I think the rules should be that bans get wiped at the end of the season and you start again. That’s not the rule though, and I have taken my medicine with the ban.
“I don’t want any more red cards this season, I have to make tackles but there is a line isn’t there?
“I have learned that from last season. Probably I was used to getting away with it a bit more in League One and League Two but I’m in the Championship now.”
Ledson’s expected return at Bradford comes as Alex Neil looks to use the full depth of the Preston squad.
The trip to Yorkshire is followed by Saturday’s visit to South Wales to face Swansea City and Neil will want to save legs for that.
While doing pre-season and knowing two games of his suspension remained, Ledson did admit to feeling somewhat frustrated that he would be missing out.
Ledson, who turns 22 next Monday, said: “The first few weeks of pre-season were all about getting your fitness.
“As we came towards the last couple of weeks I knew I wouldn’t be involved in the first two games and it hit me a bit more then.
“I worked as hard as I could in pre-season to get myself as fit as possible.
“Hopefully I will get my chance at Bradford to put the boots on and it can be a good night for us.
“Sometimes it is good to have a freshen up – the lads worked hard on Saturday to beat Wigan and it will be another tough one at Swansea at the weekend.
“We won’t be taking it lightly against Bradford, they have some good players and it is a tough place to go.
“But we won’t be going with any fear, we are going there to win the game and get a place in the next round.
“We will have to work hard to do that, produce some good form throughout the side.”
Ledson enjoyed what his team-mates produced in the 3-0 win over Wigan, Sean Maguire, Louis Moult and Paul Gallagher on target.
Victory got Preston going for the season after they had lost 1-0 at Millwall on the first day of the campaign.
“I thought the lads were absolutely brilliant against Wigan,” said Ledson.
“The gaffer had made a few changes and the lads who came in stepped up well.
“From Declan Rudd in the nets to Louis Moult up front, everyone did really well.
“We started the game well with the early goal from Sean and that settled us down, gave us something to build from.
“Wigan had a good result against Cardiff on the opening day and came here confident.
“But as soon as we got that first goal, I thought we looked really comfortably and confident.
“Joe Garner going off for them was a big moment in the game.
“From there we pushed on and there was Moulty’s goal and then that superb shot from Gally.”
Ledson will be looking to make a mark at PNE this season but not in the sense of a rash challenge on an opponent. The Liverpudlian made 18 starts in all competitions last season and came off the bench on 10 occasions.
As well as the red card at Wigan in April, he got one in the League Cup at Leeds 12 months ago.
With a few yellow cards to his name too, Ledson will need to steer clear of trouble with referees.
In terms of competition for places, Ledson has Ben Pearson ahead of him for the holding midfield role.
With Pearson no stranger to cards of both colours, that could hand Ledson a chance as the campaign goes on.