Preston striker Louis Moult will need more time before he is ready to make a return after a serious knee injury

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Preston North End striker Louis Moult is being ‘handled with care’ during a key stage of his long rehabilitation after knee surgery.

Moult, out since August 2019 after badly damaging his left knee in a game against Swansea, has progressed to training on the Euxton pitches with PNE’s fitness staff.

It’s been slow going for the popular front man but his injury was a serious one.

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He ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament and damaged other parts of the knee at the Liberty Stadium.

Louis MoultLouis Moult
Louis Moult

The main operation to repair the damage has since been followed by two smaller operations to tidy things up.

North End boss Alex Neil told the Lancashire Post: “He’s been on the grass regularly but with being out for such an extended period, he has to be handled with care.

“We’ve got to make sure there are no setbacks with him.

“Louis has made the best progress now than at any other time previously, he is in a better place now.”

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Moult is not yet at the stage of being able to join in with the squad for training.

That is hopefully the next step but the 28-year-old needs to be at the required level of strength in his knee for that to happen.

Neil said: “Louis has spent the best part of 17 months out and when you are out for that period of time to come back into training with the sort of sharpness and quickness needed is difficult.

“We really need to make sure we build him up really steadily.

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“When Louis is ready he will come back to us but only when he is right.”

Moult remains in North End’s 25-man squad which is registered with the EFL.

So when he does resume full training and gets back to full fitness, the opportunity to play would be there.

PNE’s two other long-term casualties, Patrick Bauer and Declan Rudd, were taken out of the 25-man squad in January.

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Neither are expected to play again this season, with them working towards a return in pre-season.

Centre-back Bauer tore his Achilles tendon in December’s 3-2 win at Bournemouth.

Early in January, keeper Rudd damaged knee cartilage in training and had to have surgery.

Giving an update on their recoveries, Neil said: “They are making good progress but it is a long road for them, they were bad injuries.

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“We will more be focused on getting them right to start pre-season.”

On the fitness front, Neil was checking on Liam Lindsay, Ryan Ledson, Sean Maguire, Paul Gallagher and Billy Bodin ahead of today’s game against Huddersfield at Deepdale.

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