Questions arise out of Preston North End’s forfeited cup tie

PNE midfielder Ryan Ledson is currently suspended and was not eligible to play in the Lancashire Senior Cup
PNE midfielder Ryan Ledson is currently suspended and was not eligible to play in the Lancashire Senior Cup

Preston having to cancel and forfeit the Lancashire Senior Cup tie against Blackburn was not their finest hour and such action generated a great deal of comment from supporters.

The Lilywhites felt they could not put out a team to meet the competition rules.

Those rules state that a side must include six players with a professional contract.

Giving a bit of context to North End’s position, they are not trying to claim that even putting a six-a-side team on the pitch would currently not be possible – injuries, international calls and bans have not hit that hard.

However, they will argue that the options for fielding a team in this competition have been squeezed.

Primarily, the Lancashire Senior Cup is used by clubs to give players on the fringes or from their development squads, a run-out.

Blackburn were using the tie as an Under-23s fixture, a grade of side PNE do not have.

If anything, a debate to arise from this is whether an Under-23s team would benefit Preston in the future.

PNE were not intending to play any of the players who Alex Neil has in mind to start Saturday’s game with Reading. Bear in mind suspended pair Ben Pearson and Ryan Ledson could not play, even though the game does not count 
towards their bans.

The reason is that players are not allowed to play in what is deemed a competitive game during the duration of a ban.

Graham Burke and Callum Robinson are on Republic of Ireland duty, while there is the injury list to consider.

The names on that include Alan Browne, Sean Maguire, Billy Bodin, Calum Woods, Lukas Nmecha and Michael Crowe.

Of the club’s younger players, first-year pro Michael Howard is out on loan and Adam O’Reilly is still on a scholar’s contract.

That leaves 16 players from the first-team pool.

Take into account the majority will be under consideration for a start or the bench at the weekend, and options are thinner than at first glance.

What if another injury had been picked up had the game been played?

Depending on the severity of Browne’s calf strain, North End could be down to three midfielders on Saturday.

Last season at this stage of the Lancashire Senior Cup, Preston beat Burnley 3-2.

Of the team that day, two started the next first-team fixture against Barnsley, with three more coming off the bench.