Preston will keep an eye on midfielder DJ when he plays for Jamaica against Saudi Arabia
Preston North End will keep a close eye on events in Riyadh today in the hope Daniel Johnson comes through his international duty unscathed.
Johnson is set to pull on a Jamaica shirt for the second time in four days, with Saudi Arabia again the opponents for the Reggae Boyz.
On Saturday, the North End midfielder played an hour of the 3-0 defeat to Saudi – that his long-awaited international debut.
Previously Johnson had turned down the chance to play for Jamaica due to unsatisfactory travel arrangements.
This time he took up the opportunity to join-up with the squad, together with some other Europan-based players.
PNE will hope Johnson comes through the game without incident ahead of the resumption of league action this weekend. Johnson is due back at Euxton on Thursday to start the build-up to Saturday’s home clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
They’ve lost Alan Browne for that game, the consequence of him testing positive for Covid-19 while with the Republic of Ireland.
Hence the hope things run a lot smoother for Johnson with his international duty.
In the weekend defeat to Saudi, 28-year-old Johnson played a defensive midfield role which isn’t exactly his preferred position.
Over the last 15 months at North End, he’s been affective in the No.10 role or slightly further back as an ‘eight’.
Browne’s absence this weekend will end the skipper’s ever-present run in league action this season.
He has had to self-isolate for 10 days from when he tested positive, so should be back for the derby with Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale a week today.
PNE have the numbers in the squad to cover for Browne.
Whether one of those who they will be able to call on is Ben Pearson, remains to be seen.
Pearson has been absent for a month with a groin injury suffered in the latter stages of the defeat to Cardiff.
If Pearson isn’t back, there are a variety of ways North End boss Alex Neil can cover Browne’s absence.
He’s got Ryan Ledson for the deeper role, then it’s a case of who plays in front of him and also in the No.10 role.
Paul Gallagher, Josh Harrop, Brad Potts and Tom Bayliss are midfield options.
Browne is one of a number of players forced out of the Ireland squad either through illness, injury or suspension.
Sean Maguire remains in the squad for tomorrow night’s Nations League game against Bulgaria in Dublin.
One of the replacements drafted into the Irish squad is Graham Burke who has been on loan at Shamrock Rovers from PNE since July 2019.