Promotion-chasing Burnley visit Deepdale on Friday night and Preston North End manager Simon Grayson is looking to put a spanner in the works of their automatic hopes.
Speaking ahead of the visit of Sean Dyche’s second-placed side, the PNE boss admitted everyone involved with the Club was excited ahead of the game.
“Everybody can’t wait for the game,” he enthused. “I am looking forward to it. The players can’t wait and hopefully the supporters are excited about it as well.
“It was a fixture everyone was looking forward to when they came out last June. We had a fantastic result at Turf Moor in December, but we know we are in for a tough game. We know what is at stake for them and what is around the corner potentially for them, but it is about what we do.
“We have to make sure that we put on a performance and get back to winning ways at home.
“We have to do the right things; compete and battle and win the scraps, because you have to do that against Barton, Jones and Marney, but also be aware defensively what you need to do, because they have Vokes and Gray who are very good. But ultimately they will be aware that we have some threats going forward.
“It was always going to be a good game on paper a few months ago, but now it is spiced by what is at stake for both teams. We have three games to finish as high up the table as possible.”
The eyes of the country will be on the game, as it is televised live on Sky Sports, but those particularly interested parties will be in Sussex and on Teeside respectively and the North End gaffer admitted some of them had already been in touch with well wishes.
“We have had a lot of good wishes from people connected with Brighton and Middlesbrough, but it is about what we do and what we do for ourselves rather than anyone else,” continued Simon.
“The pressure is on all the top teams now. None of them will be playing to their capabilities as they were mid-way through the season, given that there is a lot at stake. It can all change very quickly.
“Burnley have been on a fantastic run, 20 games unbeaten. I think that run started after we beat them and maybe we might end this run as well? Let’s see what happens, but it is really tight and good to watch.
“It was a big result for Burnley getting that late equaliser the other night. That will feel like a win for them, so it is all boiling up at the proper end of the season with plenty permutations.
“We have always said that runs and records are there to be broken. Full credit to them; to be 20 games unbeaten in the Championship takes some doing, so well done to Sean and his players as they have shown that consistency and that’s why they are in the position they are in now, but we will be doing the utmost for our own benefit to make sure we stop that run and get the three points ourselves.”
North End fans have enjoyed the majority of derbies this season, having the bragging rights with wins at Turf Moor, Bolton’s Macron Stadium and most recently at Blackburn’s Ewood Park and the manager said that finishing the sextuplet of Lancashire games with a home win over Burnley was something his side were desperate to achieve.
“We have had the bragging rights for the supporters and come quarter to ten on Friday night we would like to have more.
“It means a lot to the supporters and these are the big games we all worked so hard for last year to be involved with this year.
“Burnley have got some experienced players right through the team. They are a hard-working, disciplined team with the likes of Marney, Jones and Barton in the middle of the pitch who know how to manage games and dictate player and they are in the position in the league they are for a reason.
“Everybody is aware of what Andre Gray can do, but we have to be aware of other factors behind the reason they are where they are.
“It is all set up in front of the Sky cameras to be a great game. The players are looking forward to showing people what they can do as we haven’t really had a great deal of publicity for what we have done this season.
“I am not having a go at anybody, but it is just the way we are and we are looking forward to the opportunity to put on a performance and get a victory,” he added.