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Simon Grayson Ready For Derby Day

27 March 2015

Manager Simon Grayson is looking forward to being the first manager to take a PNE squad to Fleetwood for a competitive fixture this Sunday.

The Lilywhites travel to FY7 for a live Sky Sports fixture looking to further enhance their prospects at the top of League One.

Whilst Grayson’s side face their local rivals, their fellow promotion hopefuls bothy have a weekend off, but the North End gaffer is focused only on his own team’s job.

“It doesn’t affect us [what other teams do], given that MK Dons and Swindon don’t play anyway. It is one of those things that happens when international weekends come along,” he said.

“We play when we are told and the fact the teams around us will have played a couple more games before Swindon next play below us isn’t too relevant.

“You can work the situation however you want. A few weeks ago we had games in hand and everyone was saying they preferred to have the points, then we went and won games and now they are saying they will have games in hand, but I am not into mind games, all you can do it try to win the games you have and we know that if we win every game from now until the end of the season, we get promoted.”

The opponents have PNE links galore in their ranks – none more so than their manager, who is in the top team all-time appearance makers at Deepdale – but there will be no divided loyalties on Sunday, says Grayson.

“Fleetwood have had a good season,” he continued. “Like teams that have been promoted in previous seasons, they have carried the momentum forward, had a winning mentality and Chesterfield, Rochdale and Fleetwood all have a great chance of getting into the Play-Offs.

“They have some good players, Graham has done a fantastic job there and they will be desperate to try and get into the top six.

“It is a football club that has come a long way. When I was at Blackpool as a manager, we used to play the reserves there and the stadium was quite run down, but the chairman has done a fantastic job, we played there in pre-season a couple of years ago and it is a football club on the up and it will be a good occasion.

“The connections will be hyped up in the press before the game, but ultimately it is about the 11 players that go out onto the pitch that can influence it and I am sure Graham will say the same.

“Graham has no loyalties to this football club come 2.15pm on Sunday and he won’t want any other result other than a Fleetwood win.

“I am sure that come the end of the season he would be delighted if we managed to get promotion into the Championship, because of his connections with the Club, but on Sunday he will have no hesitation in trying to turn us over.”

Being international weekend the manager could be without up to four of his squad members, however, following conversations with the respective international managers, he is hoping this number will be reduced come the time team sheets are handed in on Sunday lunchtime.

“We have tried to keep a settled team and tried to get that continuity going and there is a possibility we might get one or two back early from international duty.

“We have asked whether we can get them back if they are not going to be involved over the Sunday and Monday games, but we are in the hands of other people.

“In terms of the other players we have had five or six players in the stand who have played 60 or 70 per cent of the other games this season, so we have people to fit into the team and who know their jobs and who will be desperate to play and stay in there.

“We have been loyal to players who have come in and done the business and therefore if you come in and do really well, then you have the chance to keep that shirt,” he added.

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