Bailey Wright is delighted to see the competition for places in the PNE dressing room and insists that squad depth is vital for a successful season.
The defender is pleased to see manager Simon Grayson faced with such a difficult starting XI choice with North End almost at a full complement of players ahead of the visit of Port Vale.
And Bails is more than happy to fight for his place in that 11 each and every week.
“With the exception of Paul Huntington, we have a fully fit squad, we will be almost at full strength, so we have plenty to choose from,” said Wright.
“It makes the manager’s job hard to decide who he wants to put out there, and even lads who come on off the bench, and people are taking their chances.
“They are not making it easy for the gaffer and that’s part of your job as a player, to make it hard for the manager to choose his team, especially when you have got a strong squad.
“We have got good depth and a good bunch of lads and everybody is ready to play their part when asked.
“The squad depth keeps you on your toes, that’s what you want, competition for your place and we have that all over the park.
“I think that is part of the reason why we have had a lot of players who have been consistently playing well this year, because you know that if you slip up, that that could be you out of the team and it could be weeks, months, before you are back in the team.
“It is nice to be kept on your toes because it is added competition for yourself.”
Like Preston, Port Vale head to Deepdale on New Year’s Day in a rich vein of form, having only lost one of their last six encounters.
And despite the Lilywhites defeating the Valiants 2-0 – having played for over 80 minutes with ten men that evening, the Aussie central defender is under no illusions as to just how difficult Wednesday’s contest will be.
“Port Vale are a good team in a good run of form,” added the PNE No.6.
“They are up and amongst it in the Play-Off positions so we know it is not going to be an easy game.
“We have played against them and played against them with ten men, but that’s not to say they are not a good team and they will give us a tough game.
“We will prepare properly over the next few days and make sure we are fit and ready to take them on.
“Being at home, we want to win our games at home, they are a strong team, they know their strengths and they play to them quite well.
“We have beaten them once this year, but that doesn’t really mean anything.
“We want to beat them again and it is going to be a tough one, definitely.”
Despite only one win in their last three home matches in all competitions, Wright is unfazed by the form at Deepdale and is adamant that results will swing in the Lilywhites’ favour sooner rather than later.
He continued: “I think we will be alright at home, I think we have played some good stuff to be honest, just maybe sometimes results have not quite gone our way.
“It’s nothing to worry about, we will be fine, we have a good group of lads, good management and we know it is going to click, it is just a matter of time.
“I wouldn’t worry about it too much at all.
“It is only the halfway point through the season, so if we can build on that then we will be happy and I’m sure we will.”
After a positive first half of the 2013/14 campaign, PNE currently find themselves fourth in Sky Bet League One with 11 league cleansheets; earning the latest pair of these in the last two fixtures, in matches were they have had to let their grit and determination do the talking rather than their flair and fluent football.
And Wright is happy to see the fight of late earning the rewards it has justified.
“We have got two cleansheets on the bounce now away from home which is always nice.
“Both games weren’t pretty games of football, we had to dig in, dig deep and fight in both games to get the three points out of each of them and I thought we did that quite well.
“We battled well and at times we played some good stuff and we deserved both wins.
“We have put Brentford in the past now, it wasn’t great defensively from us, but we looked to get stronger and we have done that since then, so hopefully we can continue to do so.”