Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe addresses Ben Whiteman's future and gives injury updates on whole squad
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There were several first team players that took no part in the Lilywhites’ 7-0 friendly win over Bamber Bridge on Saturday as they opened up their summer schedule.
Alan Browne and Ali McCann are being eased back in after international duty whilst Greg Cunningham and Andrew Hughes are also close to returning to full fitness.
The most notable absentee was Whiteman, with rumours circulating about his future with 12 months left on his contract, who the Lancashire Post understands is due to have a hernia operation this week. PNE boss Lowe rubbished any possibility of there being a rift between the player and the club and that his future is up in the air.
He said: “Greg is fine, Hughesy is fine, they've all trained. Ben Whiteman is not, he's got a problem in his stomach that we're getting resolved. So for all the rubbish that is being talked about - he's not going anywhere. He was sat next to me on the bench.
"You can only deal with what you can deal with, he's injured at the minute, we're trying to get him back, hopefully he'll be fit in the near future. There's no real rush on it, can I say 100% sure that he'll be back for the start of the season? I'm 99% sure he will be but we've got to make sure we manage him.
"We don't want to rush him back, he had this injury towards the end of the season, hence why he missed the last part of it, we didn't want to rush him when we knew there wasn't an opportunity to get where we wanted to be. It was just a case of trying to shut him down.
"He's had setbacks here and there in pre-season and we'll just try and manage him right the way through.
"Greg's doing fantastically well after his injury, he'll play some part against Bruno’s Magpies in Spain, Hughesy might be a week later but he's not far off. Ali and Browney trained with us on Friday, they'll play some part. We're all good.”
North End fans are already descending on Benidorm in anticipation of their friendly game on Wednesday, 5pm, against Gibraltarian side FC Bruno’s Magpies.
But beyond the 90 minutes of football, Lowe feels it’s a chance for his side to come together ahead of the new campaign.
He said: “I like getting away with the staff and the players, the camaraderie. It's nice that we've got a game and the fans will be there in their numbers.
"I'm glad we've got a stadium for them as well, they were excellent and the picture that we got with them, the memories, we want them to come and support us but also to be safe as well.
"We're pleased we've got a stadium and we're looking forward to it.”