Manager Simon Grayson says his team can go into the FA Cup tie against Manchester United with no fear and a freedom to play their own game.
“We’ve taken a look at them, as we do with all the opposition that we are going to play,” said the gaffer. “I went to watch them against Burnley on Wednesday night and Burnley gave them a good game.
“You go to watch these games and only go to really try and see if there’s anything where you can hurt them in certain areas of the pitch, but ultimately they have got fantastic world class players and if they perform on the day like they can do and we don’t perform, then 99 times out of 100 they should beat us; but if we perform really well and they are off key then we have a good opportunity.
“This tie does a lot for the football club. It lifts the profile, it will be a fantastic atmosphere, brings in vital revenue and we have to go out and enjoy it and see where it takes us. We have nothing to lose and Manchester United certainly has.
“The one thing you don’t want the team to do is to let it pass them by, because these games don’t come around too often. You have to grasp it and somewhere down the line there might be a hero – and from becoming a local hero, they suddenly become a national and worldwide hero if they produce a performance and get a goal to knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup.
“They have only lost one in their last 18 games, which is not bad! If you underestimate them you can come unstuck, so we know we have to perform to our maximum and give it a right go – and I am sure the players will.
“The place will be absolutely rocking and the players will be desperate to put on a performance. The magic of the FA Cup is still alive and somewhere this weekend there will be a shock and a hero and why can’t it be from us at Deepdale?”
Going into the fixture Grayson has a virtually full squad to choose from, however, one man who is definitely out is the man who proved the match-winner the last time he took on United.
“We’ve had a few injuries over the last few weeks, but we’ve made some excellent progress,” he continued. “The only player who is out is Jermaine Beckford. He has had this ear infection that has affected his balance, given him dizziness and it has been a really severe case.
“He has been to see a specialist about it and is making good progress; we were worried he could be ruled out for the season, but the prognosis is only for a few more weeks, which is better than we first thought.
“Calum Woods will be fit, which gives me another option and Callum Robinson will train with us over the weekend, but the players who have got us the last three wins on a bounce are in a good shape to push everyone else for a place.
“Callum has worked really hard on his recovery at Aston Villa and it is really good to have him back around the building. It is good to see him looking forward to his training again. We won’t rush him back, but we will see where he is over the weekend.”
The Lilywhites enter the game on the back of three consecutive victories and after a difficult January the manager admits he was steadfast in his belief that his side would come good.
“As I said at the time, I wasn’t despondent or down. I was frustrated more than anything that we hadn’t got the return in points that we should have done, but sometimes that happens in football.
“You have to work hard to get your rewards and also need some breaks here and there, but I have never wavered in my belief that we could get results.
“It was tough January, but we showed our character as a staff and as players and we have come out of it with three good results. And now we have won three games we are not getting carried away, but we are delighted how we have responded to a difficult January,” he added.