Manager Simon Grayson joked that his scouting reports went straight in the bin after Gillingham’s change of manager last weekend.
The North End boss has spent a full week on the training ground preparing his side for the long trip to Kent, but is well aware that his side could face a different animal to the one they would have been coming up against has Peter Taylor not replaced Martin Allen at Priestfield.
“I’ll have to rip up the scouting reports and put them in the bin,” joked the gaffer at his pre-match press briefing for the game. “It is one of those situations that happen in football. I was surprised last Sunday when I heard Martin had been sacked, but that’s the nature of the business.
“It is a new era for Peter Taylor. It will be a contrasting style of play, but how quickly Peter can implement his own ideas on the group, time will tell.
“We’ll concentrate on what we need to do. We know enough about the individuals Gillingham can select from and what they have done previously, so we will do our work, but we will be aware that it will be slightly different to Martin Allen’s way of playing.”
The PNE chief will be hoping to end a run of three 2-0 reversals in past couple of weeks and is looking for his frontmen to pose problems to the Gills’ backline.
“I have said to Humey and Beav that we need more people around Kevin Davies to anticipate things, win second balls and score scrappy goals within the six and eight yard vicinity, rather than wait around the edge of the box to whack in goals into the top scorer from 20 yards,” he continued.
“When people look at us with the strikeforce that we’ve got, they probably think that Kevin Davies should have ten goals by now, Stuart Beavon should have seven or eight because of their names and what they’ve done before, but that isn’t always the case.
“You can become reliant upon your strikers to score your goals. We haven’t been shy in the goalscoring department, but everybody has shared it out.
“Once the strikers’ confidence goes or they don’t score for a couple of game; if you are reliant upon them, then people look on it as a drought, but we have got options.
“At the start of the season I looked at the squad and thought that people would assume we would have a 20 or 30 goal partnership, but we have genuine threats from all over the pitch. We haven’t got somebody who is necessarily going to get 20 or 30 goals, but we will have a few players who end up on the dozen mark.”
He will also be looking carefully at what team to select and will consider changes: “The players out of the team should always be ready to come into the team, because they never know when I might change it or when they are called up from the bench.
“When you’ve not won for a couple of game you look at the team closely, but we have been close to winning both games and on another day we could have got something in both, so I won’t make an irrational decision, I will assess it and the opposition before I make my final decision,” he added.
The manager went into the clash with Crewe last weekend without forward Joe Garner, who had been battered from pillar to post in the JPT clash with Oldham, but there was good news about his injury after a precautionary scan.
“Joe went for scan on his knee on Monday and fortunately the results came back as just bruising, so he was back in training with the team on Tuesday,” continued the manager.
“It is good news, because it gives us another option available for the weekend.
“Jack King is making good progress as well. He is working hard with the physios and hopefully in the next week or so he will be able to drop in with the first team with is positive.
“We will need to then determine how quickly things progress; but it is very pleasing how well he’s done and hopefully we can get him a reserve game soon and then get him back involved.”