Simon Grayson believes that Saturday’s trip to Peterborough is an ideal time to find out where North End stand in terms of their good start to League One.
After going nine matches undefeated, the gaffer takes his players to London Road for a clash with second placed Peterborough United, for a match he sees as being a ‘good test’ and a ‘tough game’ in equal measures.
Speaking to PNE.Com, the manager said: “They have got some good players; obviously Darren Ferguson has been there a few times and knows what it is all about at the football club.
“They keep producing players, they keep going out into the lower leagues and finding little gems and selling them on for big money, then go and replace them with other diamonds that they keep polishing up.
“It is a tough game for us; they are a good footballing team, a handful up front.
“I think the lad Lee Tomlin being out for a few weeks will be a bit of a blow for them but that gives somebody else the opportunity.
“I know they have signed Paul Taylor back from Ipswich and they are up there on merit.
“I expect them to be up in the top six at the very least come the end of the season.
“It is a good test of where we are going to be and where we have come from over the last couple of weeks.
“Away from home, no matter who you play, they will come at you and get the fans behind them and get on the front foot, so we know what to expect.
“They play a different system to what many other teams play which we have got to work on and make sure that we give the information to the players of what problems that can cause us, but also what we can do to them.
“We are under no illusions, Peterborough will be coming out to take the game to us and give us a real difficult game, but we will like to think that they will be respectful of us and what problems we can cause them.”
Much like in recent weeks, North End will have a full complement of players to select from – excluding Jack King, for the trip south and Simon is pleased with the attitude of all the players in his squad, the ones starting and the ones not seeing much first team action at present.
“No they haven’t,” said Grayson when asked if the players who were not in the starting line-up at present had a right to feel slightly aggrieved.
“I had a conversation with one or two players who were slightly frustrated because they wanted to be playing first team football but they fully understand the situation.
“If they were in the team and we were winning on a regular basis and I decided to rotate or leave them out, then they would feel hard done by, as would the players that are in the team.
“All you say to these players is ‘keep working hard, keep your head down and be ready to go into the first team’, because you know how quickly things can change around with injuries, suspensions, lack of form, then they have to come into the team.
“What I will say and I said this to a group that went on Tuesday over to Everton for a reserve game, is that every one of them players who has not played in the first team has trained unbelievably well and they had a fantastic attitude in a reserve game the other day and that’s full credit to that group we have got here, that they are willing to play a reserve game like it was a first team game and keep themselves match fit,
sharp and ready to go into the first team, because that is how quickly that can change.
“I mentioned it to the players that I have been extremely impressed by everything these lads have done because they have got a fantastic attitude.
“There is a buoyance about the place, the players are not getting too carried away, they are not stepping over the line of being complacent, but they are working hard to keep getting results and long may it continue.
“To be unbeaten after the nine games that we he had is a testament to them, because we have played five or six teams who are up in the top eight of the division so far.
“We have had some tough games, that is not to say that any other games we play in the next month after that are going to be easy, but we have withstood a lot of difficulties along the way against good teams, but we have come out the other side and hopefully that we will keep on continuing.
“Jack King is the only one who is out, so it is nice to have them non-selection problems, whether we change the team around, system around at the weekend, we will wait and see on that one, but it is nice to have a full complement of squad available for the weekend again.”
Grayson is up for Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for September following five straight victories and he is joined on the Lilywhites nominees list by Scott Laird, who is in the running for Player of the Month, a reward for his hard work and endeavour on his comeback from injury according to Grayson.
“He has got better game by game,” added the gaffer when talking about Scott Laird.
“Scott got frustrated in his first few games thinking that he needed to get back to the level of where he was so quickly, but we kept saying to him that it would come game by game, your sharpness will come, your awareness on the pitch and all the other things that go with making a good player will come along because he had been out so long.
“All the hard work that he did over the period of time that he was out injured has certainly led him in good stead to being where he is in this moment in time.
“I think another few players could have been up for that award because some of our players have been very good in this run that we have had and if you go back to Lairdy, he knows that if he slackens one bit, then he has got David Buchanan who has been absolutely top drawer for us and he will be coming into the team if Lairdy doesn’t keep producing.”