John Welsh insists the PNE squad are concentrating solely on themselves in the build up to their match with MK Dons this Saturday at Deepdale.
The sides have made similar starts to the season – solid at the back and difficult to break down – but when Welsh was asked how North End are planning to siege the resilient Dons back four, he made it clear that he and his teammates are focussing simply on themselves.
“I think it’s more about looking at how we play, we’ve got an idea on how they’re going to play and I’m sure we will work on it, but I think it’s just about us,” he told PNE.Com in an exclusive interview.
“I think the quality we’ve got in the team and squad, you’re bound to create chances, obviously we haven’t scored yet in the league but there’s no major problem, we know the goals will come.
“We want to keep a nice, tight back four and a nice tight team, we don’t want to concede any chances early on and I’m sure the creative players will come into their own and they’ll create goals.
“We’ve got four or five strikers that will no doubt score at this level so I’m sure once people get used to each other and get back into it and get a bit sharper, I’m sure the goals with start coming.”
Milton Keynes are renowned for their clean cut, slick passing style of play and Welsh believes the Dons will provide PNE with a difficult test come Saturday afternoon.
“It’s going to be a tough game, they’re a really good team,” Welsh added.
“They’re usually in the top six for the majority of the season, they’ll come and look to pass it – Karl Robinson’s teams always look to pass it.
“They’ll want to spread out when they’ve got the ball and be nice and tight when they haven’t got it so we sort of know what to expect on that front and I’m sure we’ll be working today and tomorrow on how to counteract that and how to beat them.”
Meanwhile, North End’s No. 19 is looking forward to getting reacquainted with one of his old friends from his time at Liverpool, as Karl Robinson prepares to take his place in Deepdale’s away team dugout, and the Lilywhites captain revealed has high hopes for his former coach’s managerial career.
“I knew Karl when I was at Liverpool, he was at Liverpool too,” he added.
“Every time I speak to him, he’s always well spoken, well mannered and respectful and he’s really done a lot in the game for such a young age.
“The teams that he creates and the way he wants to play is, in my opinion, the right way to go about playing football.
“He wants his team to get hold of the ball and pass it round and he’s worked with some good managers – Paul Ince who was at MK Dons – I’m sure he’s learnt a lot there.
“So he’s definitely a future Premier League manager if you like, he’s done that much so far, but hopefully he’ll have a stinker at the weekend and we’ll beat them.”
PNE are yet to concede a competitive goal this season, with Welsh playing a big part in those clean sheets - operating just in front of the back four - and the 29-year-old was full of praise for the side’s defensive unit.
“We’ve been unbelievable, the back four plus Dec has been unbelievable,” he said.
“Obviously we need to turn to the other side of the game and improve on that but if that’s the base that you play off then you’re definitely going to win more game than you lose.
“Even the clean sheets that we’ve kept, even since the gaffer first came in, we don’t really concede that many chance, let alone goals.
“So if we play off that platform and we turn a few more chances into goals, we’ll be in for a good season.”
MK Dons centre halves Shaun Williams and Lee Hodson have a combined age of just 48, while PNE’s Kevin Davies and Iain Hume’s total is 65.
And Welsh believes the experience of North End’s strike force could prove pivotal, not only for this weekend’s game but for the entire season.
“That could be said for every game – obviously you’ve got Kev’s experience and talent, same with Humey, same with Joe and same with Graham,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of players who can threaten sides so we know that’s going to be an effective part of our season and it’s a young back four so it’s unlikely they’ll have come across a player such as Kevin, because he’s a handful for any experienced defender, so for an inexperienced on he’ll hopefully be on form and get a few goals for us.”
On a final note, after a tough battle in pre-season to see who would emerge as North End’s skipper for the new campaign, manager Simon Grayson made the decision that Welsh would captain the side from here on out, and John himself admits he is delighted to have the opportunity to lead the Lilywhites in 2013/14.
“I’ve always said I’m really proud to captain the Club,” he said.
“It’s a great Club to be involved in and to captain it is even more of a big deal for me, it’s something I enjoy and I’m just glad the gaffer has given me the honour of doing it.”