Right-back has been a '˜haunted' role says Clarke

It will be famine turning into feast for Simon Grayson as far as the Preston North End right-back role is concerned when action resumes after the international break.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 26th March 2017, 11:27 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:16 pm
Alex Baptiste celebrates scoring against Huddersfield Town at Deepdale
Alex Baptiste celebrates scoring against Huddersfield Town at Deepdale

Alex Baptiste and Marnick Vermijl both resumed training before the break and should be ready to contest a place in the squad for Saturday’s home clash with Nottingham Forest.

The right-back position has been beset by injuries this season.

Calum Woods was the first to fall before a competitive ball was kicked, badly damaging knee ligaments in July.

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Since the turn of the year, Baptiste, Vermijl and Tyias Browning have has spells on the sidelines.

After a brief experiment with Greg Cunningham filling in at right-back, it has been skipper Tom Clarke who has stepped into the breach for the last three games.

Clarke said: “Right-back has been a haunted position in terms of injuries.

“It is a role that I have been asked to play recently and is obviously one I’ve played here before.

“I do prefer to play in the middle but I’ve been happy to move to right-back.

“The position has changed a bit since I used to play there more regularly.

“I think you have to do more attacking from full-back now than you once did.

“I’ve enjoyed playing there, doing a job for the team and we’ve stayed on a good run.”

Baptiste, on a season’s loan from Middlesbrough, had made the right-back spot his own in the first half of the campaign.

He made 19 successive starts in the league, the first few at centre-half before his switch to the right.

The 31-year-old was rested for the win at Burton, having played 48 hours earlier against Sheffield Wednesday.

Grayson’s plan was to restore him to the side against Arsenal on January 7 but Baptiste injured his knee in training two days before. Vermijl played the next four games in his place but was being 
hampered by a hernia.

At the end of January, PNE moved to sign Browning on loan from Everton.

But last month after five games in a Preston shirt, he too suffered a knee injury in training.

He is likely to return later this month.