Preston North End boss Alex Neil hoping for better news on injury front

Andrew Hughes is likely to replace the injured Josh Earl for Preston's visit to Nottingham Forest
Andrew Hughes is likely to replace the injured Josh Earl for Preston's visit to Nottingham Forest

Preston manager Alex Neil is hoping for a glimmer of good news from the treatment room ahead of tomorrow’s testing trip to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest.

Neil admits the number of injuries he has to contend with of late is as bad as he has known as a boss.

But it will be still be with a real sense of determination that he takes PNE to the East Midlands in search of a quick response to last week’s defeat at Birmingham.

That 3-0 reverse brought to an end a nine-game unbeaten run, Neil keen for another good sequence of results to be put together.

Josh Earl joined the injured list during the Birmingham game and is unlikely to make tomorrow’s game.

That will open the door for Andrew Hughes to return at left-back. Ben Davies has recovered fully from a hamstring injury having only been a substitute last week.

The fitness of Ben Pearson and skipper Tom Clarke will be assessed after they missed the Birmingham game.

Clarke’s broken nose and associated complications have caused real concerns.

His face has been badly swollen due to him getting an infection following the nose fracture.

Neil said: “You just hope for a bit of good news.

“Unfortunately Josh Earl came off last week and might struggle for this one.

“We maybe have a couple coming back, we are hoping Tom Clarke can do a little bit of training.

“We’re unsure about Ben Pearson but Daniel Johnson might be able to do a little bit of work soon.

“If you look at the Bristol City game in which we got our first away win, there were six starters who couldn’t play at Birmingham last week.

“At the moment we don’t have that competition for places.

“Last week we had young Jack Baxter on the bench and we will have another couple of the kids travelling with us.”

A selection poser for Neil will be which of his keepers he uses against Forest.

Declan Rudd dropped a big clanger for the opening goal at Birmingham, opening up the possibility of a recall for Chris Maxwell.

Said Neil: “Naturally Dec is disappointed to have made an error.

“We have not dwelt on it too long, it is important we show him our support.

“It is not necessarily a week-by-week selection thing with the team, especially with the goalkeepers.

“I didn’t change it the last time, Maxi took himself out of the team with his suspension.

“When that type of error happens, naturally you need to look at what your decision is going to be for the next game.

“We will make what we think is the right decision.”