Preston North End boss aims for returning attacking duo to bolster his forward line

Ryan Lowe aims to have Sean Maguire soon following Josh Murphy back into contention in the Preston North End forward line.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 5th March 2022, 8:00 am

Lilywhites manager Lowe was able to include Murphy in the squad which travelled to Coventry last week although the winger didn’t make the matchday 18.

He played an hour in the reserves in midweek and will be pushing for a place on the bench against Bournemouth at Deepdale today.

Maguire isn’t far behind in the fitness stakes as he comes back from damaging ankle ligaments in January’s away win over West Bromwich Albion.

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Preston North End striker Sean Maguire in action against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup at Deepdale earlier in the season

A run out in the Lancashire FA Senior Cup tie against Liverpool on Tuesday is likely to be next on the agenda for the Republic of Ireland international.

With Lowe wanting a range of options going forward, having both players back would be a boost.

Lowe told the Lancashire Post: “Josh is direct, he’s got pace to burn, he’s an intelligent footballer and can score goals.

"He can definitely offer us something a bit different and a fully fit Josh Murphy offers us something a lot different.

"What we have to remember is that Josh has missed a lot of football and we have to make sure he is on point.

"Match fitness will be key for him, you can get your numbers and data up in training but it’s games where you really get your fitness.

“Sean is a bit different because he played plenty of games before his injury.

“He could do with 45/60 minutes to top him up next week but he’d been fit all season which makes a difference – he’d started games and come off the bench.

"Sean has been out since West Bromwich which is about five weeks but he had the foundations which Josh didn’t.”

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Preston North End's Deepdale victory over Bournemouth in the 1999/2000 title-win...

PNE’s other walking wounded are a little further back in their fitness bids.

Greg Cunningham and Tom Barkhuizen have been sidelined by calf injuries, Cunningham since the Huddersfield game last month and Barkhuizen after limping out of January’s visit to Swansea.

Lowe said: “Barky’s not ready just yet, he had a bit of a setback, it’s not as straight forward as we hoped.

"He’s been out on the grass for a day or two and then back inside.

"Greg is similar, between six and 10 days before fully training.”