Preston boss Alex Neil is thrilled to have talisman Sean Maguire back after injury

Alex Neil is pleased to have ‘smart’ striker Sean Maguire back in the Preston team after his latest injury.

Maguire started last week’s 4-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers and will hoping to face Stoke City today.

Preston North End's Sean Maguire

Preston North End's Sean Maguire

The Irishman played on the left-wing against QPR, with him getting through 70 minutes.

Prior to that he’d had two substitute run-outs in the games against Doncaster and Swansea to build-up his match fitness.

PNE boss Neil said: “Sean is a quality player for us.

“He was a sort of talisman last season in that he would get important goals just when we really needed them.

“Sean is smart, when the ball comes to him he does just wee bits which makes him so hard to play against.

“He will give the defender a little nudge at the right time, he takes the ball in, takes it past people.

“It’s right to say that Sean gives us something we haven’t got at the moment.

“When Callum Robinson was fit, we had that – he could drop in, take the ball to feet or run away to stretch the game.

“Sean can do those things and that type of player can cause the opposition so many problems.

“He is a key player and we want to keep him fit.”

Maguire has missed two spells of the season because of hamstring trouble.

An injury picked up in the last pre-season friendly kept him out until October.

The 24-year-old returned to make six appearances and then suffered a grade two tear to a hamstring muscle while on international duty.

North End were patient with his return, Maguire not risked until the FA Cup clash with Doncaster on January 6.

At QPR, Neil went with a 4-1-4-1 system.

That saw Maguire start on the left, pushing inside when the chance arose.

Neil said: “The selection was based on how well Jayden Stockley had done the week before against Swansea.

“That wasn’t a great game but I thought Jayden had done very well.

“We put Sean in there you could see those combinations starting to work with them getting used to each other.”

Maguire and Stockley were backed-up from the bench at QPR by Tom Barkhuizen and Lukas Nmecha.

Louis Moult could add his name to the list of available strikers at Stoke.

He’s been back training for more than a week after being out of action since December 22 with a hamstring strain.

PNE’s FA Youth Cup fifth round clash with Bury at Deepdale has been arranged for Friday, February 8 (7pm).

They beat Norwich 3-0 on Tuesday, with Adam O’Reilly, Lewis Earl and Louis Potts finding the net.