Preston North End manager Alex Neil delivered some promising news on the fitness of both forward Billy Bodin and defender Andrew Hughes, following the Lilywhites’ 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
The draw extends Preston’s unbeaten run to seven Championship matches and keeps Neil’s side in fifth place in the table on 18 points, but on a night when both Nottingham Forest and West Bromwich Albion, who were both the Lilywhites before kick-off, dropped points North End will be frustrated they could not take all three points at the Riverside.
Neil’s side took the lead five minutes before the break, somewhat against the run of play and after withstanding a lot of pressure from Middlesbrough, with Josh Harrop slotting home the rebound after Alan Browne’s effort came back of the post, but Preston’s advantage lasted just two minutes with defender Darnell Fisher bundling the ball into his own net three minutes before the interval.
Both teams threatened a winner in the second period but ultimately had to settle for a point and although Preston might be a little frustrated with that, they will still be encouraged by the fact they managed to grind out a point away from home when not at their flowing best.
There was some positive news for Preston after the game with Neil speaking to the Lancashire Post and suggesting that Bodin and Hughes could be in contention for Saturday’s game against Barnsley at Deepdale, saying “Billy will either be okay for Saturday or just miss it.
“Him and Andrew Hughes are probably in the same boat, they will either make it Saturday or they will be back after the international break.”
Neil’s updates on the potential returns to the Preston squad for Bodin and Hughes for either Saturday’s meeting with Barnsley, or after the international break, will provide a boost for the Lilywhites as they look to protect their unbeaten record and secure their current place in the play-offs.
Preston will be needing as many of their squad fully fit as is possible if they are going to be able to maintain their promising start to the Championship season, and both Bodin and Hughes will be key figures going forwards if they can recover fully from their respective injuries.
Bodin’s return will help add something extra to Preston’s attack, with the forward able to both create and score vital goals at crucial times in matches, while Hughes will help provide extra competition and cover for the Lilywhites’ defence which is sure to be tested over the coming weeks and months.