Why Callum Robinson can prove pivotal to Preston North End’s play-off push

Preston forward Callum Robinson has returned to training this week
Preston forward Callum Robinson has returned to training this week

Callum Robinson’s return to training this week will have been a big boost to Alex Neil ahead of Preston’s run-in to the end of the season.

While Robinson will not be rushed back after more than three months out following surgery on his hamstring, he will have a part to play in the coming weeks.

PNE boss Neil has name-checked Robinson a few times during his time on the sidelines to emphasise the skill set he brings.

He did so post-match against Bristol City when analysing the 1-1 draw at Deepdale.

In a tight game, Neil felt Robinson might well have been the man to unlock it to PNE’s advantage.

Neil said: “Bristol City sat in their shape like Nottingham Forest did the other week.

“In games like that, Callum Robinson is the key.

“He is that guy who can work between the lines, he can turn and hurt teams.

“Callum gives us width and pace as well.

“At the moment we are a bit restricted in that type of player.

“The two players we have got like that are Callum and Billy Bodin, who is also out.

“The others we have got are a different type of player and give us different things.

“Sometimes up there you need a ‘technician’ to help turn things in your favour.”

Robinson returned to full training on Monday, ironically in the week leading up to the derby clash with Blackburn at Ewood Park.

It was in the reverse 
fixture at Deepdale at the end of November that he damaged a hamstring tendon.

He had scored North End’s second goal in the 4-1 win before pulling up with hurt in the second half.

His injury was found to be a detached tendon in his hamstring, similar to the one suffered by Sean Maguire last season.

Robinson had an operation on December 1 and his recovery was always going to be three months-plus.

In the last couple of months, Preston have coped well without him.

They are unbeaten in nine games, scoring 16 goals in that time.

As Neil referenced though, there have been games in that run when he was missed.

When Robinson was first absent, PNE scored eight goals in eight games – three of them in the same match.

Robinson was North End’s leading scorer with 10 goals when injury struck.

He has dropped off top spot but is still only behind Alan Browne, who has 11.