Preston will finally return to Championship action on Saturday, travelling to take on Luton Town.
The season has been suspended for over three months now due to the global pandemic, and North End need to hit the ground running.
Preston’s last outing was a 3-1 home defeat to Queens Park Rangers. With four defeats in five, North End’s playoff spot was coming under real pressure before the break.
Of course, the pandemic has been a dreadful situation worldwide, but it may have come at a good time for North End. A chance to reset, a chance to recharge and come back for the final push.
Some players may well feel that they can come back even better after this break, even though training was curtailed early into lockdown. For instance, Brad Potts may have had a chance to get up to speed having missed a big chunk of pre-season last summer.
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The main source of excitement though is Scott Sinclair. The winger joined from Celtic in January, marking arguably the most high-profile Preston signing in some years.
Sinclair was a Celtic hero, but had struggled for playing time under Neil Lennon. Much was expected of him after arriving at Preston, but it was no great surprise that he made a low start at North End.
Sinclair managed just the one goal, and looked to be short of sharpness. In fact, in the last three games before the pandemic, Sinclair played just 39 minutes across three substitute appearances.
Now though, Sinclair has had time to settle into his new surroudings, and will have had something of a mini-pre-season. He spent last summer training with Celtic’s kids, so this kind of training intensity may be just what he needed.
Over the weekend, Preston played against Burnley in a behind-closed-doors friendly. Sinclair scored Preston’s goal in a 1-1 draw, with North End’s official website describing his strike as a ‘superb solo goal’.
Of course, the game being a behind-closed-doors friendly is a major caveat, but Sinclair scoring outstanding goals against Premier League competition has got fans excited – and we may finally see the best of him when the season resumes, months after arriving from Celtic.