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Club News

Grayson: Keeping Chipping Away

27 March 2013

Manager Simon Grayson says the team can take a big step forward this weekend as they play two games in four days over the Easter period.

The North End boss spoke to the press ahead of the double-header at home to Portsmouth and away at Crewe on Easter Monday and was looking forward to a chance to guarantee League One football for 2013/14 and then try and create further momentum for the next campaign.

He will start the weekend without two recent key men, however, with news that joint top-scorer Stuart Beavon and midfield stalwart John Welsh will both be ruled out for the duo of fixtures.

“Beav is okay,” said Grayson. “He’s in the hands of the physios and doctors at the moment and he’ll be ruled out for the two games over Easter, as is mandatory after being unconscious, but he’s doing a little bit of light work with the physios; it could have been a lot worse. 

“It was a nasty fall and a nasty knock to the back of the head, so we are delighted he’s okay and hopefully he’ll be available for the Scunthorpe game a week on Saturday. It gives someone else an opportunity to stake a claim for the rest of the season.

“John Welsh will miss the weekend as well with his Achilles, but other than that everyone is fit and available for selection.”

The gaffer’s team selection has been fairly steady so far, only affected by injury and suspension and he feels this can play a significant part in consistency of results.

“I like to pick a team, which if it’s doing well, picks itself. Players then know where they stand and they get better the more games they are in the team and the more confident and belief them get, the more then improve. 

“Chopping and changing isn’t always the best thing to do, but if we have to change it over the next two games, then we will do, because it is two close games back-to-back and it is an opportunity to look at the squad. 

“However, first and foremost we will concentrate on the game against Portsmouth and then pick a team for Crewe after that.”

Back-to-back wins could leave North End without having to continue to look at results below them, but the manager is far from complacent with two very tough fixtures on the cards this weekend.

“Mathematically we are not safe yet, but the lads have done well,” he continued. “We have accumulated a few points and we’ll keep chipping away until we are safe and then keep working hard and plan for next year.

“There will be no complacency from our part, because we have prepared the players the same, irrespective of the opposition. We are focused on what we need to do.

“Portsmouth have had a strange season; not just on the pitch, but off it as well. Over the last few games they have got some good results. They went to Doncaster and got a good draw there and then they beat Coventry the last time they played. 

“When you look at their team they have some good experienced players; Agyemang and Connolly have both played at a good level; Ertl and Racon in the middle of the park and then Rocha and Gyepes at the back  - so they have an experienced spine and we certainly won’t be underestimating them, because we want to keep putting in performances, try and get another victory at Deepdale and another clean sheet.”

Home form has picked up of late, three consecutive clean sheets and seven points from the last nine available have started the road to creating a fortress again at Deepdale and the Lilywhites’ chief thinks this is an important platform.

“You should feel comfortable in your home environment and the fans are seeing what the players are doing. 

“We are trying to build that camaraderie together, where we are working closely for each other and trying to achieve success for everybody connected with Preston North End – everything is geared to try and be successful.”

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