'It's mayhem at the moment, absolutely crazy': Daniel Johnson's relief at coming through injury scare to help stretched Preston North End squad
Daniel Johnson admits he is simply relieved to be playing his part after becoming something of a rarity for Preston North End this season.
When a thigh injury came to light for the Jamaican in the middle of November many, including the player himself, feared the worst.
There was plenty of chatter about whether the 26-year-old, who had just cemented his place in the side after a stop-start season, was to be the latest Lilywhite to be out for an extended period.
First talk was that he was to be out for months before manager Alex Neil revealed they were targeting the new year for Johnson’s return.
It was a shock therefore to find his name on the teamsheet for what turned out to be a fine 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest on December 8.
It was some welcome good news for Neil and the squad in a season blighted by injury problems.
“It’s feeling great at the moment to be honest,” said Johnson ahead of facing former club Aston Villa on Saturday.
“I’ve just got to manage myself a bit more and take care of my body even more than I was.
“It was a scary moment for me. I’ve never had a really serious injury before.
“When I got told I could be out for the rest of the season or I could be having surgery I wasn’t too pleased but luckily for me it didn’t turn out to be that bad.
“I went down to London to see the surgeon and it was just relief.
“I’ve just worked my way back to fitness and I’m back playing my football and enjoying it.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries which haven’t helped us.
“It wouldn’t have been great for me to join that group and I’m just happy I’m fit and able to help the team.”
With players around him dropping like flies Johnson has been used in a variety of roles in recent weeks.
From the deepest of the midfielders to just off the front, he has also played on the left and right.
“It’s mayhem at the moment, absolutely crazy,” said Johnson, who has scored four goals in 18 appearances this season.
“The manager is having to chop and change the team and put people in different positions.
“Personally, I don’t mind where I play, I’ll play off the right, off the left, play further forward or even deeper.
“I prefer to play in a three, I feel like you can control the ball and dominate the midfield more.
“I like to play anywhere in there to be honest but with the current circumstances I’m not fussy, as long as I can be out there helping the team.”
One of those less fortunate than Johnson is his good friend Callum Robinson, PNE’s top scorer set to be sidelined until March with a hamstring injury.
“Callum just can’t wait to be back,” Johnson said.
“It’s going to be a long process for him.
“He’s recovering nicely though. He’s a bubbly person, he’s never one that’s going to be down.
“That’s why the boys love him so much.
“He brings that energy to the changing room and it’s good to have someone like that.
“He’s okay and he’ll be back soon and scoring goals.”