Preston North End boss Simon Grayson doesn’t think County’s mixed season last year will have any influence on how they perform on Saturday and for the rest of the season.
The Nottinghamshire side looked down and out at one point, in the bottom four for much of the campaign, but six wins in the last nine games saw the Magpies clinch survival on the final day of the campaign.
Since then, Derry, who oversaw the great escape, has had time over the summer to personalise his squad bringing experienced heads like Roy Carroll, Alan Smith, Hayden Mullins and Gary Jones into the fold as well as the purchase of Liam Noble from Carlisle.
“I think Notts will be a bit disappointed with how things panned out last year, but Shaun’s had a bit more time now to get rid of players and bring his own one’s in,” said the North End boss.
“They’ve got a blend of youth and experience so they’ll be looking for a successful season.
“They were in and out of the bottom four more than any other team last year, but that’s history now and that’s not going to play any part this year especially on Saturday so we know what to expect.
“They’ll come here and make it hard for us – Nicky Wroe will be coming back to Deepdale for the first time since his move so there’s a lot of interest.”
For the fifth year in a row, Preston will kick off their season at Deepdale, with last year’s opener seeing North End play out a 0-0 draw to eventual champions Wolves.
That proceeded a host of stalemates for PNE with the Club drawing their first four games of the season before recording their first victory against Walsall at the fifth attempt.
And although the manager won’t want to see a repeat of the Lilywhites’ stalemate start to last season, he highlights that getting off to a good start at home will mean nothing if the momentum isn’t continued throughout the season.
“The one thing you do find when you’re playing at Deepdale is it inspires the opposition.
“It’s a fantastic surface, great surroundings so we’ve got to be mindful of that, but we’ll do whatever we can to get as many points as possible here.
“We’d like to win the first game as quickly as possible for sure, but you need to do that throughout the season.
“When you look at Wolves in the first few months, they were still coming to terms with being in League One, but the number of points they accumulated over the course of the season saw them through.
“But of course we’d like to start the season with a couple of victories because it will obviously give us a great boost going into the rest of the season.”
In terms of results, the Lilywhites have had an excellent pre-season, losing just one of their seven pre-season friendlies, with the only defeat coming at the hands of Premier League runners-up Liverpool.
The team have recorded a further five victories and a draw in the close season, ending with a hard-fought 1-1 game with Leicester City last weekend.
But as expected, Grayson is keeping a level head going into the new season for when it really matters on Saturday.
“Everybody can look back at those results and say Preston have had a good pre-season, but the one thing that I do in terms of those results is to look at how we’ve performed as individuals and as a team.
“Sometimes you can win matches and the team have done just okay, but I’ve been pleased with the aspects of the games that the players have been asked to do with different formations and systems, but winning matches is a great trait to have and hopefully that will continue."
To hear Simon Grayson express his excitement for the up and coming season to PNE Player, click here.