Preston North End hopeful Daniel Johnson could be back for Brentford clash after injury

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Alex Neil says Daniel Johnson will be a ‘late call’ for Preston North End’s visit to Brentford on Sunday.

The midfielder, subject of an enquiry from Rangers earlier in the month, has been limited to only 15 minutes of football so far this season.

He has missed the last three games with a groin muscle injury but has been able to train this week.

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If North End could get him fully fit in time for the trip to London, that would help counter the absence of the suspended Tom Barkhuizen.

Preston are hoping that midfielder Daniel Johnson will be fit to face Brentford on SundayPreston are hoping that midfielder Daniel Johnson will be fit to face Brentford on Sunday
Preston are hoping that midfielder Daniel Johnson will be fit to face Brentford on Sunday

PNE boss Neil said: “DJ will be a late call for us.

“He has done a bit of work on the grass and it’s now about how quickly we can get him up to speed.

“If he’s pain free, running about and can train properly, he can play. If he can’t, he’s not ready.”

Last season’s top scorer and player of the year has courted interest from Rangers in recent weeks.

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The Ibrox outfit offered £1.5m paid in four stages when they enquired before the start of the season.

With that news coming out on the eve of the opening-day game against Swansea, Johnson sat that one out.

He returned to the squad at Derby in the Carabao Cup as a substitute and came off the bench to score a 90th-minute winner from the penalty spot.

Johnson was in line to play at Norwich four days later but hurt his groin in shooting practice the day before – a scan, said Neil, which showed ‘grade one’ damage.

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Time is ticking in terms of Rangers having to decide whether to follow up their interest in the 27-year-old.

The transfer window shuts for the Scottish club on Monday.

Johnson is in the last nine months of his contract at PNE and with his 28th birthday coming up soon, this is a key stage of his career in terms of the next deal he agrees.

As far as North End are concerned, Monday’s deadline is the first of two cut-offs in the transfer market.

Monday only applies in terms of them doing deals with clubs in another country.

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There follows a domestic stage of the window which runs until October 16.

EFL and Premier League clubs can still trade with one another in that spell, doing both permanent transfers and loan deals.

But no movement is allowed from one Premier League club to another in that additional part of the window.

PNE have enquired about an America striker playing in the MLS, so any potential deal there is governed by Monday’s deadline.

Beyond that it will be the domestic market they are working in to try and find the extra firepower that is desperately needed over the coming months.