Preston boss Alex Neil has praised the recovery powers of Ben Davies after his swift recovery from surgery.
Centre-half Davies made his return to the Lilywhites side in their 2-1 win at Bristol City on Tuesday night, just 24 days after having his appendix removed.
He had only returned to training last Sunday but put in a commanding display to help PNE to their Ashton Gate victory.
Neil said: “I suppose the nearest thing that footballers have in that area of the body is a hernia operation.
“But when you have your appendix removed, they have to puncture your stomach wall which is painful.
“It is fantastic that Ben has managed to come back quickly and play.
“Not only that, at Bristol City he was playing against a striker, Milan Djuric, who is 6ft 6in and very aggressive in the air.
“Ben dealt really well with him, it was a good night’s work.
“He is a key player for us, so is Darnell Fisher who came back from injury too.
“Sean Maguire is also a key player, so is Jordan Hugill, they were all missing when we played Bolton last week.
“When we have most of key players back, I know what we are capable of doing.”
For Davies, this has been a breakthrough season with Preston.
While his debut came in January 2013 and he got a short run of games at the start of the 2014/15 season, it is only since Neil’s arrival that Davies has become a regular.
North End loaned him out five times following his debut, with him taking big strides when at Fleetwood in the second-half of last season.
He has featured in 12 games this term, playing seven of those in a row up until he was taken ill with the appendicitis.
The 22-year-old missed the matches against Brentford, Aston Villa, Ipswich and Bolton, with North End losing three of those.
Neil, meanwhile, says he was pleased to see his players adapt to a formation change when beating Bristol City.
PNE went 4-4-2, a switch from the 4-2-3-1 favoured by Neil this season.
“I think one thing I have been labelled with is that we only have a plan A type of thing,” said Neil.
“So it was very good to go to Bristol, adapt to a different approach and for it to work.
“As a manager I have worked with a variety of shapes and systems.
“There is always going to be one system you are more comfortable with but equally it was good that the lads showed they could play in another system and do well.”
Meanwhile, Sean Maguire was back at the training ground on Thursday to begin his rehab work after surgery on a serious hamstring tear.