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Simon Grayson Says His Side Have A ‘Free Hit’

Posted: Thu 16 Mar 2017
Author: @pnefc

Preston North End manager Simon Grayson says his side are under no pressure as they aim to close the gap on the top six.

The Lilywhites face a local derby at Blackburn Rovers this weekend, but he gaffer says the fixture is no more important than any of the other eight that remain in the regular EFL Championship season.

“They are all important games,” said Simon, looking ahead to the trip to Ewood Park. “We said ahead of last week, that if we were still in close proximity of the Play-Off places this week then we will continue to give it our best and that’s what we intend to do.

“It is a big game, for numerous reasons, a local derby match, but ultimately it is just about the three points that we are trying to get to claw back on anybody who manages to slip up.

“There is far more pressure on those teams above us, and even some of those below us, because they have to be in the Play-Offs because their budgets demand it and it is what their football clubs expect.

“We have got a free hit at it and if we manage to do it then brilliant and if we don’t then we will still have had a fantastic season.”

The team’s away form has seen a number of draws in the last few weeks and the North End boss believes that at this stage of the season a team doing the chasing needs to be getting wins.

“When you look at the games we have had, there have been some tough ones, but we have played well in the majority of them,” he continued.

“We are doing everything on the training pitch and the players are doing everything to turn the draws we are having into wins, which will be a key factor between now and the end of the season.

“We will be going to try and win every game, because you have to with nine games to go if you are going to try and get to where we want to if we can.

“We are that stage where with only single figures of games left, as a team who would like to get into the Play-Offs, winning football matches is crucial.

“It is more important when you are chasing teams above you, like we are, and maybe not a much for Blackburn, where every point you can accumulate could be priceless at the end of the season.

“I am sure Blackburn will be trying to win the game as much as we are, but it is one of those games that has the fine ingredients of being a great game again.”

The opposition are unbeaten in six games since Tony Mowbray took charge of Rovers, but Simon believes that with another huge away following making the short trip to Blackburn, then his side can get the result they are looking for.

“To go to Fulham and get a draw on Tuesday night was a great result, as was the point at Norwich at the weekend. I went to watch them win against Derby and I thought they played well against a team fighting for the Play-Offs.

“The players have obviously been receptive to Tony’s ideas. He is a good football man. It is going to take time to get his ideas implemented full-time, but he will just want to get through this season and make sure Blackburn are still in the Championship, then he will have the summer to do what he needs to do.

“I have been impressed by them. They have some good experienced players, coupled with some younger players that I know about, so it will be a tough test.

“Any local derby is a tough test, as is any Championship game, but we will go there in good spirits trying to take the three points again.

“Last year we had the biggest away support of any team in the Football League at the game and that shows you what it means to our supporters to be able to travel to support their team.

“Over 5,500 have already been sold for this weekend with plenty of time still to go and it will be a fantastic atmosphere and hopefully we can replicate a similar performance and result as last year,” he added.