SYMPATHY is in short supply from Ross Wallace when it comes to his old club’s plight.
Preston sit bottom of the Championship, still 10 points adrift of safety in spite of credible draws against top-half sides Watford, Nottingham Forest and at home to leaders QPR in their last three games.
Yet Wallace, who played almost 60 league games in 18 months at Deepdale, is not prepared to aleviate the pressure weighing heavily on North End, and certainly not at the expense of his current club’s play-off push.
When asked if he was sad to see his former employers staring relegation in the face his answer was blunt and brutal.
“Honestly, not really,” said the Scot.
For the manner in which he left still smarts.
“At the time I was happy where I was and wasn’t really wanting to move anywhere,” he continued.
“I was kind of forced out of the club to be honest with you.
“I was basically told I had to go.”
With an offer in the region of £1million on the table from Burnley, cash-strapped Preston let the winger go.
“Preston needed the money at the time but I think the way it was handled was quite poor really,” said Wallace, who was told by then manager Darren Ferguson that he didn’t want him to leave.
“I think the fans’ perception was that I left to join a better team with more money and stuff like that, but that wasn’t the case.
“I was happy where I was.
“But I was lucky enough that Burnley were interested.
“I looked at the squad we’ve got here and it was a no brainer for me to come here really.”
But the former Celtic and Sunderland winger doesn’t expect that his side of the story will win the Preston fans over.
“It was quite weird the last time we played them because I never really got a good reception. Grezza (Graham Alexander) got a standing ovation,” said Wallace, who is hoping for a speedy recovery from Monday’s confidence crushing 5-1 FA Cup fifth round defeat at West Ham United.
“It’ll be a good game. I’m looking forw-ard to it and I know Grezza’s looking forward to it as well, going back there again.
“It’s going to be an enjoyable match for me so hopefully I get a game.”
But defender Leon Cort feels very differently about Preston’s peril-ous position.
The centre half will take no part in tomo-rrow’s clash between his parent club and tempo-rary emplo-yers.
But he’s not prepa-red to sit on the fence when it comes to declaring the result he wants.
Burnley splashed out £1.5million as Cort became former manager Brian Laws’ first signing, from Stoke City, in January last year.
Yet it is Preston, who he joined on loan in November, where he feels most at home. And it’s their bid to avoid the drop rather than the Clarets’ claim for a play-off place, that he will be rooting for tomorrow.
“It’s disappointing that I won’t be playing,” he said. “Obviously you want to play every game, but it’s out of my hands.
“Hopefully, we will still be able to get a good result.”
Cort’s last game for the Clarets ended on a sour note as the 31-year-old was sent off, and gave away a penalty, in a 4-0 home defeat to Reading Before that he had made 19 appearances – 15 of them in the Premier League as he was brought in to help boost an ultimately failed survival bid.
But after he started the season on the bench, he was glad of the opportunity to play at Deepdale, despite their ongoing struggles in the Championship.
“When you’re playing football, you enjoy it,” he said “Regular football is what I want.
“I don’t want to be playing reserve-team football – it’s no good for me really.
“It’s nice to be playing week in and week out and getting your fitness levels up and enjoying the games.”
However, he admits his future is facing an uncertain future once his loan deal expires in the summer, as he will still have two years remaining on his Clarets’ contract.
“I don’t know what the situation is yet at Burnley,” he said.
“I spoke to the new manager when he first came in.
“He just said that he wasn’t going to rearrange the team straight away, and he said if I wanted to keep doing what I was doing, then that would be okay.
“He said he would keep tabs on me and then we’ll see what happens at the end of the season.”