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Simon Grayson Ready for Edgy Derby

3 December 2015

Manager Simon Grayson is looking forward to taking his PNE side to Turf Moor in a league game for the first time.

The Lilywhites play their first game at the home of the Clarets for a league game for the first time since the controversial 2011 clash where Darren Ferguson’s men squandered a 3-1 lead after the sending off of Billy Jones, by Saturday’s returning official Kevin Friend.

And the North End boss is well aware what the game means to the supporters: “This means a lot to the supporters of both teams, but it was always going to be a tough game for us because they are a team who have just been relegated from the Premier League, have parachute payments, kept their squad together, invested heavily and are desperate to get back to the top table,” he said ahead of Saturday’s game.

“They are a very consistent, hard-working team and have individuals who can win them games. I watched them the other week against Brighton and saw what they were about and the majority of their squad is the same one that was with them in the Premier League and they have added to it.

“I am sure Sean will be respectful of us and will have seen what we have done, how we have adapted to this division, the threats that we have got and it is a derby match where we want the boot to be on the other foot from the Blackburn game a fortnight ago.”

For the first time in a month the preparations of the Lilywhites haven’t been hampered by not knowing who would be taking charge of their opposition, as was the case prior to the QPR, Blackburn and Fulham games, which has allowed time on the training field this week to be about where his side can exploit the opportunities they may get.

“We will work on the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition, but we will concentrate on what we need to do to get a result,” continued the gaffer. “They have not lost too many matches, but we have only lost one in eight. 

“The game will have that edge to it, but whatever you spend, that can go out of the window in a derby match – it is about who plays with their head as well as their heart, who takes their chances and hopefully that will be us this weekend.

“Teams that I have taken to Burnley have always experienced a good atmosphere. Turf Moor will be rocking on Saturday and we will have to go there and do a professional job. We can build on the things we have done well – we can do them better still and we also have to focus on their good players as well. It has the ingredients of being a good game and hopefully it will be a successful one for us.

“The players have to up their game when they are playing against the top players. It was the same when I was playing – when you came up against the top players you made sure you were on your ‘A’ game yourself and coming up against a good individual, you have to win your battle and gain confidence from that.

“We have been very solid over the last few weeks, prevented some very good individuals from creating too many chances. The collectiveness of the team has to be good; the units have to stop the supply and stop the individuals.”

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