Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson claims there is strong competition between his players already, despite the fact PNE’s first team have been back in training for just one week.
The senior squad experienced their first taste of pre-season graft last Thursday, hitting the ground running – literally!
And the former Blackpool, Leeds United and Huddersfield boss is delighted with the attitude of his side after such a short time since their return to Springfields.
“Everybody is in a good state and all pushing each other, you can see the competition already for the players,” Grayson said.
“Even in the running they’re doing they’re pushing each other to the limit and in the games and ball work they’re doing exactly the same.”
Though Grayson insists the initial aspects of pre-season work have changed in recent times, saying: “I think football’s moved on dramatically over a couple of years now.
“Ten or 20 years ago it used to be running for a week or so and you never saw a ball but now it’s changed, players are fitter when they come back and they have to be because there’s big competition for places.
“I’m really impressed with what we’ve done, we’ve still got things to do and work on before the season starts but at this early stage I’ve been impressed by the players and what they’ve done.”
With such a hectic schedule ahead, competitive play will no doubt come around quickly, and Grayson is no stranger to the busy calendar of a professional Club’s campaign.
However, the boss is also counting on his players to be prepared for the coming season as they could be called upon to do a job for the team at any time.
“It’s a long gruelling season, you’ve got 46 league games, you’ve got the cup games and everybody will get chances,” he continued.
“What they’ve got to do when they get that opportunity is be fit and ready to go into it and mentally prepared to go into the team, then stay in the team – make my decision hard.”
The gaffer has made two new additions to his squad in the form of winger Chris Humphrey and the versatile Tom Clarke, and he is delighted with how the duo have settled into life at PNE.
“I know a lot about Tom, he’s a very determined defender, versatile, right back, centre half, can play midfield and played left back as well for me,” Grayson said.
“I know what he’s all about, a whole hearted defender, he’s settled in really well as Chris has as well.
“We’ve seen glimpses already in training of what Chris Humphrey is capable of doing.
“He’s very dynamique, he takes people on and he’s going to be an exciting prospect for us and I think he’s enjoying being here.”
Meanwhile, the Yorkshire-man is looking forward to North End’s opening friendly against Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side and believes the game will be the perfect homage to Reds and Preston legend Bill Shankly.
“It’s always a good test for the players to be playing top level opposition and Liverpool is up there with one of the biggest names in world football,” he added.
“That’s great for us to have the privilege of playing them and also the coincidence, I suppose, of it being Bill Shankly’s 100th birthday this year so it’s nice to have that connection with both Clubs.”