Striker Ched Evans in line for Preston North End return at Middlesbrough

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Frankie McAvoy could have Ched Evans back in Preston North End’s squad for the visit to Middlesbrough tonight.

It has been more than three months since the PNE head coach has been able to call on striker Evans’ services due to a foot injury.

McAvoy ran the rule over Evans in yesterday’s training session and hoped to have him on the coach heading to the Riverside Stadium.

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An extra striker to back up Emil Riis and Sean Maguire would be welcome.

North End striker Ched EvansNorth End striker Ched Evans
North End striker Ched Evans

Scott Sinclair was the only out-and-out attacking option on the bench for Saturday’s defeat against Cardiff.

McAvoy said: “Hopefully we can factor in Ched and he will be ready for this one.

“Ched’s not been available much, he’s only been involved in two games this season.

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“We are a big short up front, however Sean came back in on Saturday and got his chance while Emil has been excellent for us this season.

“He was a player who looked a bit low on confidence at the end of last season but that confidence is back now.

“Getting Ched back in the squad would give us a different option to the other two.

“He was a big success in the games at the end of last season and it would be great to have him back with us.

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“Ched’s got a chance for this game, so has Matthew Olosunde who is someone we haven’t seen yet.”

Evans has been ruled out with plantar fasciitis, a painful condition which affects the bottom of the foot.

It flared up in pre-season and the only two games he featured in came against Hull on the opening day and then at Huddersfield on August 17.

Ben Whiteman returns to the fold tonight, the midfielder having been suspended for the Cardiff game after picking up five bookings.

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The FA amnesty for five yellow cards comes in after tonight’s game – the 19th of the season.

How tempted McAvoy is to shake things up after the poor second-half display against Cardiff, remains to be seen.

It would not be a surprise to see Whiteman go straight back into midfield, while Josh Earl will be pressing for a recall at left wing-back.

Greg Cunningham played that role against Cardiff before giving way to Earl during the second half.

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McAvoy needs a positive result at Boro to take some of the heat off him. To go into the weekend’s visit of Fulham to Deepdale on the back of three defeats would be worrying.

The Scot knows he is in the results business and accepts when stick comes his way.

Said McAvoy: “When we lose games I deserve a bit of flak, that’s what happens.

“Against Cardiff we did well in the first half but didn’t do well in the second. I know we have to be better.”