Preston North End face a battle to get Daniel Johnson firing after his potential move to Rangers collapsed earlier this month.
The playmaker, 28, held talks about joining the Light Blues and was axed by Alex Neil from the North End squad when a transfer appeared close.
But the two clubs could not agree a fee and Preston now have the challenge of coaxing the best out of one of their star players.
A Deepdale source told Football Insider the club’s coaches had been fuming how Johnson’s had had been turned by Rangers and the prospect of a glamour move.
He lost focus and that was why he was dropped even before he suffered a groin injury that kept him out of subsequent matches.
The left-footed midfielder is now fully recovered and made his first Championship start of the season in last night’s 2-0 win over QPR at Loftus Road.
Operating in a number 10 role, Johnson scored the opener on 24 minutes from the penalty spot before former Celtic man Scott Sinclair wrapped up the points with his fourth goal of the season.
The 10-week gap until the January window provides a fresh opportunity for Preston to work on securing Johnson to a long-term deal.
He has entered the last eight months of his current deal, which expires next summer.
Rangers have proved adept at luring out-of-contract players north of the border in recent years, with Scott Arfield, Joe Aribo and Allan McGregor among those signed on free transfers.