Preston North End boss Alex Neil says defeat at Fulham added insult to injury after Ben Pearson KO

Alex Neil admits a lengthy absence for Ben Pearson has capped a frustrating few days for Preston.

Monday, 2nd March 2020, 5:00 am

The combative midfielder is facing a month out with a hamstring injury, his loss coming in a crunch spell of matches.

Pearson felt his hamstring in last Tuesday night’s defeat at West Bromwich Albion.

He was sent for a routine scan, PNE not expecting the results to come back showing much untoward.

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Ben Pearson and Preston manager Alex Neil

However, it showed up an issue which will keep him out until April.

Pearson, 25, travelled with the squad to Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Fulham, watching from the stand at Craven Cottage.

North End manager Neil said: “The last week has been frustrating and this capped it off really. Losing at West Bromwich was frustrating, then we found out Ben is probably going to be missing for the next month.

“We then to Fulham, score an own goal and give a way to someone else.

“It is Ben’s hamstring which is the problem. He felt it in the midweek game.

“We didn’t think it was going to be an issue, we sent him for a scan hoping it would tick a box and he’d be fine.

“It came back showing he had an issue with his hamstring.”

North End have four games in the next month, starting with Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale on Saturday.

They go to Luton Town the following week, then play Cardiff and Derby County at home.

There is an international break after the Derby match, before action resumes against Huddersfield on April 4.

Neil has midfield cover but no direct replacement for the type of player Pearson is.

Although Ryan Ledson is often seen in a similar mould, he is not like-for-like.

At Fulham, Neil chose to play Alan Browne in Pearson’s deeper role.

Daniel Johnson played slightly ahead of Browne, with Brad Potts recalled to operate in the No.10 role.

Paul Gallagher missed the game through illness but should be back to provide another midfield option for the QPR clash.

Neil was pleased with how his three midfielders played, explaining why he gave the holding role to Browne.

“We put Alan against Tom Cairney who is a really good player at this level,” said Neil.

“If anyone in our team could deal with Cairney, it was Alan and he dealt with him really well.

“He matched him in the channel, took him the other way, picked up second balls and was aggressive.

“That allowed Pottsy to work the front with David Nugent and do most of the pressing.”