Manager Simon Grayson admits that Saturday’s clash with Mark Warburton’s Bees has all the ingredients of a terrific encounter.
It’s fourth versus third in Sky Bet League One with two lengthy unbeaten runs going up against each other and the Lilywhites’ gaffer is looking for his side to have narrowed the gap on the automatic places come 5pm on Saturday.
“We want to stay unbeaten for as long as possible,” he told the press at the Club’s annual visit to the children’s ward at Royal Preston Hospital on Thursday afternoon. “We are pleased with how we are doing, but it is a hard game this weekend.
“They are on a fantastic run, like ourselves, and the change of manager won’t have too much effect on them – as Mark has already been within the football club for quite some time.
“It’s a tough game, but has all the ingredients to being a great game and we want to try and claw the gap between the top two teams even closer.”
The Griffin Park outfit have seen all-change at the top in recent weeks, following Uwe Rosler’s move to Wigan Athletic, but the PNE chief is not expecting this to have an impact on things.
“The players will already know Mark [Warburton],” he continued. “Sometimes you have a change of manager and it can be a big turnaround of ideas and philosophies, but this will be a clean and easy changeover for everybody, as was proved when they beat Oldham in the 95th minute.
“They just missed out on automatic promotion last season and lost out in the Play-Off Final and we think we are moving forward as a football club, so this is a big test for us.
“They have some exciting players; some experienced players like Douglas and Donaldson and we are hopeful it will be a cracking atmosphere - a big game where we hope to come out on top.
“You have to earn the right to win these games, but if we can, it would set us up nicely for a difficult Christmas period, with all the games coming up.”
Going into the run of five games in 15 days, the manager welcomes back Joe Garner from suspension and is also hopeful of Jack King playing his part over the busy festive period.
“ [Joe Garner] was flying before he got the suspension. We are still unbeaten without him, but it is nice to have players back available going into this busy Christmas period, giving me options.
“I can change things around if I need to and that’s what you need – competition for places.
“We’re still without Paul Gallagher, but we have to make sure we have a fresh and sharp squad for these games.
“Jack King hasn’t trained yet and we are assessing him on a daily basis, but there is a big improvement there. Other than that, we have everybody who is free to suspension, available for selection, which is great at this time of year,” he added.