Manager Simon Grayson is looking forward to having options to select from for this weekend’s trip to table-toppers Brighton & Hove Albion.
The PNE boss welcomes back Joe Garner into the squad for the Club’s first visit to the AMEX Community Stadium and also has Paul Huntington available to start, having come through 20 minutes as a substitute at Charlton on Tuesday night.
“There is now competition for places again with Joe and Hunts back,” said the gaffer. “It was like last season’s squad game, where people will come into the side and go out of the side and we need competition where everybody is being pushed.
“We don’t want anyone who is thinking they are a certainty for the team, because if they do that they can become complacent and you don’t get the best out of them.
“It is great to have competition for places; we are still probably going to be without Tom Clarke through his shoulder injury, but it is nice to have Joe back and hopefully he will make an impact; if selected!”
The opponents have had an excellent start under Chris Hughton, unbeaten in 12 league games and sitting four points clear at the top of the SkyBet Champtionship and Grayson acknowledges that it will be a tough test for his side.
“They don’t come much harder than this game we’ve got this weekend,” he continued. “The result we had on Tuesday night is a big filip for us; everybody will be writing us off, but if we can show same sort of desire and work-rate as we did at Charlton, then Brighton’s run has to come to an end at some stage, so let’s go in full confidence and try and upset the apple cart and get a result for ourselves.
“Chris has got them playing well as a team. He has got a few new players, but he has also got good shape and organisation, with match winners in the team. They are up there for a reason and we know we are in for a tough game.
“We have to be disciplined in everything we do; enjoy the experience and go there as underdogs, trying to build off Tuesday’s result, trying to get something that would make a good week for us.”
Well over 1,000 North End fans will make their first trip to Brighton’s latest home and the manager is grateful of the support and feels his own team’s preparation has been just what they need to get a positive result.
“We have been fortunate that we have stayed down all week, but it is a fantastic stadium for the supporters to visit. I am fortunate enough to have had a couple of trips down there and got positive results with teams and hopefully by Saturday tea time if we put in a positive performance the supporters in their numbers can be very proud of what they have seen.
“Being able to spend a few days away has been excellent for us. Credit to the owner for letting us do that. It has taken a lot of needless travelling out of the equation and allowed us time to get together as a group and enhance the team spirit even more that we have,” he added.