Wait and see for PNE defender

Tom Clarke receives treatment for a head injury
Tom Clarke receives treatment for a head injury
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SIMON Grayson says he will be guided by Preston’s medical team when it comes to the availability of Tom Clarke for Saturday’s visit to Oldham.

Clarke had to be substituted in the 55th minute of the win over Walsall after a clash of heads with Saddlers defender James Chambers.

His header in that incident hit the post but Clarke and Chambers collided – both of them needing treatment.

Chambers carried on with a bandaged head but a groggy Clarke was substituted and taken straight to the dressing room.

Lilywhites manager Grayson told the Evening Post: “We will do what our medical department feels is the right thing.

“Ultimately it is all about Tom’s well being and making sure he recovers fully.

“If he is not fit for Oldham then so be it – other people will get their chance.

“But if Tom is fit it will be great to have him involved.

“Knowing Tom, this bang on the head has probably knocked some sense into him!”

Clarke has been part of a defence which has kept four successive clean sheets in League One action.

For the second half of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Scunthorpe and until his exit on Tuesday night, he played at right-back.

Against Chesterfield and Manchester United, Grayson had opted for a back three of Clarke, Paul Huntington and Bailey Wright in a 3-5-2 system.

Grayson said: “We worked hard in keeping clean sheets –the players show a lot of desire to do that.

“It is not just the defenders and goalkeeper, it is the lads in front of them working hard. What we look to marry together are clean sheets with creativity at the other end.

“For 60 minutes against Walsall we were a major threat going forward and just needed a second goal to stop people getting nervous.

“Had we got a second goal like we did against Scunthorpe, I think we could have gone on to score a couple more.

“Our problem in the second half on Tuesday was giving the ball away too cheaply and giving Walsall possession.

“In the first half we would have six, seven or eight passes and then switch play.

“But in the second half we were probably giving the ball away after two or three passes – we got a bit slack.”

The League One promotion race has tightened up in recent games.

Bristol City have a five-point lead at the summit but MK Dons, Swindon and PNE are bunched behind.

Sheffield United have also hit form in fifth place and should not be ruled out of the automatic promotion frame.

Said Grayson: “All we can do is try to win as many games as possible.

“I expected Bristol City and Swindon to win on Tuesday and I expected us to win.

“It is a competitive division and with 15 games to go there will be twists and turns for all the teams up there.

“We have built up a bit of momentum and hopefully we can carry that forward for as long as possible.

“Players are coming back into the squad now which can help us stay strong and competitive.”