Preston North End captain Tom Clarke, like a highwayman, rode into Nottingham at the weekend all masked up and came away with the spoils!
The Lilywhites skipper broke his nose against Middlesbrough, heading the back of former team-mate Jordan Hugill and missed last weekend’s trip to Birmingham due to the problems caused by the break.
However, he was fitted for a protective mask, that came in time to wear for the clash at the City Ground, but as he explains – in graphic detail – he is not just fully recovered from the problem.
“It was very strange!” He told iFollow PNE of the experience of wearing the protective face mask. “I had a day to wear it in training and get used to it. It felt very strange and moved a little bit, but it added that little bit of extra security on my nose.
“It was a strange one, because I have broken my nose before and then played the following week, but with this one all the swelling went down into my top lip and was weeping out of my gums, so I don’t know whether I had an infection alongside it.
“I am still very blocked up and so it was difficult in the closing stages of the game to breathe through it normally, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks it will get back to normal.
“My friend is a surgeon and he was saying that it could be re-broken and straightened, but that just creates more swelling, the best way to get rid of everything is to get back out there. I have the mask for protection and hopefully everything else will follow suit and I can get back to normal and get my breathing back.
“It took a bit of getting used to. Luckily, they made it in time to have a training session in it, but it was a little bit strange. If I miss-headed it, it would move a little bit, but I am happy for the protection and hopefully I won’t have to wear it for too long.
“It will help wearing it for the full week in training this week, getting used to the different movements, heading the ball and having as long as possible with it.”
The masked-man played his part as Alex Neil’s side picked up another vital three points against Aitor Karanka’s men, something the North End No.5 was very proud of.
“We got back to being hard to play against and hard to beat,” he explained. “We know that with the quality we have got, we will always create chances, and we have been doing that.
“Forest have scored a lot of goals in the league, so we were delighted to keep a clean sheet against them. Yes, they had chances, but we knew they were going to have, but we had to hold strong and when we got our chance, take it – and that’s what we did.
“I was so proud of the lads, it was a massive result for us. On the back of a disappointing result against Birmingham we wanted to quickly get back to winning ways, and we did that.”
On the return to action this weekend, PNE are back at Deepdale and have a tough test against Neil Harris’ Millwall, a clash that Clarke and his team-mates are looking forward to after their recent run of form.
“We know what we are in for. It is going to be a tough game; a lot of high balls contested and they are a difficult team to play against, but we are looking forward to it.
“We know how disappointed it was initially, but we have only lost once in 11 games now and we are going in the right direction.
“This next batch of games is important to swing it one way or the other. We want to look up, keep pushing and keep moving forward, like we were last season,” he added.