Preston North End boss Alex Neil waiting for boost from trio

Preston midfielder Ben Pearson missed the defeat at Birmingham with a thigh injury
Preston midfielder Ben Pearson missed the defeat at Birmingham with a thigh injury

Preston hope to wheel out big guns Ben Pearson, Ben Davies and Tom Clarke for the Nottingham Forest clash this weekend.

Pearson and Clarke were sidelined for the 3-0 defeat at Birmingham, while Davies was only on the bench as a last resort following a hamstring problem.

Their absences added to an already lengthy casualty list which features Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson, Billy Bodin, Daniel Johnson and Josh Harrop.

A thigh strain has troubled Pearson for some weeks and the Birmingham game came too soon after the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough which at times he limped through.

His all-action midfield presence was badly missed at the weekend.

Clarke broke his nose in a clash with former Preston striker Jordan Hugill in the Boro game.

The resulting swelling from the fracture spread down into the skipper’s mouth and caused some breathing issues.

Both Clarke and Pearson travelled with the squad to St Andrew’s but North End boss Alex Neil was taking no risks.

Neil said: “We took both lads down in hope rather than expectation.

“We didn’t want to leave them at home and they then found they were okay to play.

“Both weren’t okay as it turned out.

“Neither was Ben Davies, that is why he didn’t start and was only on the bench.”

It is hoped the clear week will give Pearson, Clarke and Davies to recover ahead of the tricky test against Forest at the City Ground.

Said Neil: “Ben Pearson wasn’t quite right before the Birmingham game.

“We’d nursed him through the last couple of games but this was too much of a risk.

“I didn’t take a risk either with Ben Davies because his hamstring was a bit tender.

“Tom’s issue was his nose which he broke heading the back of Jordan Hugill’s head.

“The problem Tom has got is with all the inflammation.

“What has happened is that he has now got a fat lip because all the inflammation has run down his face.

“He looked really bad on the morning of the game.

“I’m hopeful that we will have them back for the next game at Nottingham Forest.

“We need to get players back because we are stretched to the limit.

“People don’t really care who is out, they don’t look at your injury list – they just look at the scoreline.”

Another injury which will need assessing is the thigh strain which forced left-back Josh Earl off at half-time in the Birmingham game.

Earl had started five games on the bounce after getting the nod over Andrew Hughes.

It was Hughes who came on for him at St Andrew’s.