Preston boss Neil taking no risks with Darnell Fisher
Alex Neil was thinking beyond Preston's clash with Leeds in midweek when choosing not to risk Darnell Fisher.
Right-back Fisher sat out the 3-1 victory at Deepdale due to a tight hamstring.
At a push he might have been able to play but North End boss Neil was reluctant for history to repeat itself.
Neil said: “It’s a tight hamstring for Darnell.
“On the last two occasions that he’s had an injury, at Ipswich and then Sheffield United here when I had to take him off, he went on to miss three or four weeks.
“We didn’t want to put him in for this game and then lose him for the last four games.
“We didn’t know whether that would happen and will happen but I wasn’t taking the risk.”
Tom Clarke took over from Fisher at right-back and put in a strong display.
That followed up a run as a second-half sub at Reading last Saturday when he played at centre-half.
Said Neil: “I thought Tom came in and put in a very good performance.
“He was great on Saturday too, he is really determined and wants to play.
“Tom has characteristics which we want in the team and we have great competition in the squad at the moment.”
It was Clarke’s 16th game of a season which only started for him in November after recovering from the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered a year ago.
As North End look for a strong finish to the season, his experience is something which Neil is likely to lean on during the run-in.
The win against Leeds was only the fifth time Preston had scored three goals in a league game this term.
North End won 3-0 against Cardiff, 3-1 at Birmingham, beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 and Bolton 3-1.
In the FA Cup, they put five goals past Wycombe.
Neil felt the third goal scored by Alan Browne was another step forward for the Irishman in the development of his all-round game.
“On quite a few occasions when I’ve talked to Alan about his game, I’ve mentioned that he needs to score more goals,” said Neil.
“I thought his header was fantastic – it was a great ball in from Callum Robinson and Alan got up to take it past the goalkeeper.”