Manager Simon Grayson is relishing the chance to test himself and his team’s potential against the SkyBet Championship favourites in their season opener against Middlesbrough on Sunday.
The Lilywhites opener their campaign against Aitor Karanka’s men at Deepdale in a high noon shoot out with the men from Teeside and the PNE gaffer wants to see his side use the momentum of their Wembley success to spur them on to a good start back in the second tier.
“We want to carry on the momentum and the feel good factor from Wembley with us,” he said. “On the reverse Middlesbrough could still be having a bit of carry over. They could also be using the motivation of disappointment at Wembley, as we did when we lost at Rotherham the previous season.
“In terms of our players, we want them to have that feel good factor; that buzz and anticipation of how we felt at the end of last season, going into the new season. We want as many positive vibes as we can. We are two days away, the season starts tonight and that’s what we have worked so hard for over the past two and half years.
“There is no bigger game than to start with the favourites for the division at home on Sky. Certain teams are spending money – not quite the money Middlesbrough are spending and can still spend – but that’s what their owner wants to do. Everyone has to cut their cloth accordingly, but Middlesbrough are trying to give themselves the best opportunity by spending money on very good players.
“Ultimately on Sunday though, as 12 o’clock, it is 11 players against 11 on a piece of grass, with a couple of goals to see where the season takes us. It is a great opportunity for our players to test ourselves and realise what they have done last year with all that hard work.”
Asked what his ambitions were for the new season, the North End boss was hopeful of another successful effort from his team: “Any team that gets promoted has to first and foremost make sure they are still in that division the following season, but within our dressing room here we have ambitions of doing well,” he continued.
“We are not going to get carried away and start proclaiming we are going to get automatic promotion, we just want to enjoy it and see where it takes us.
“We don’t have an ambition of a certain finishing position, but just want to give a good account of ourselves, work hard every game we are involved in, show the same sort of qualities, spirit and desire that we have shown over the past couple of years and see where that takes us.
“The first port of call is to stay in the division, but you saw last year Brentford and Wolves finish one in the Play-Offs and the other just outside and anything is possible with any team.”
And after a month of hard work on the training field at Springfields, he is delighted to be going into the campaign with all his options available to him.
“A few players missed out at Bury last weekend, but everyone is back fit.
“We started pre-season wanting to get everyone as fit as possible and available for selection for the first game and we are not far away from that,” he added.