Manager Simon Grayson spoke ahead of his side’s trip to promotion-chasing Derby County and felt the ten day break between games came at a good time.
Since the Lilywhites last played the Rams have had two big games, at Burnley and at home to Manchester United in the FA Cup on Friday. And the North End boss thinks his side will be fresh going into the game at the iPro Stadium.
“I think the break has been good for us,” said the gaffer. “We have played a lot of football over the last few weeks and months and so a breather has allowed a few players to get back fit.
“Tom Clarke will be available for the game and a few others have had a chance to re-charge the batteries as well as get some training under their belts.
“When we knew the game would be off we made a conscious effort to get it rearranged as quickly as possible and both parties were receptive to doing that and so we will play on Tuesday.
“It isn’t easy to play a game after coming up against Manchester United, as we experienced last year. Psychologically and mentally it is very draining and demanding because of the level that you are playing against and what goes with that cup tie.
“However, they have some experienced players and a head coach who knows that the player is about as well and I don’t think it will have any effect on the game, but they will want to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible. Sometimes if you play against teams lower down in the division it can be difficult, but I am sure they’ll be prepared.”
The Rams performed admirably against Wayne Rooney and co on Friday night, suffering the same scoreline as the Lilywhites did against Van Gaal’s side last season and Grayson is well aware of what it can be like facing United and then getting back to league action.
“If anyone was being realistic they would have expected Manchester United to go to Derby and get a result,” he continued. “I went to watch them against Burnley and they played well box to box, they just didn’t get any luck in the defensive box and didn’t take their chances when they came along.
“They have some good players; they are favourites for the division, have different expectancy levels at their football club to ours, so it is a good test for our players, both as individuals and collectively as a team.
“They will want to get back to winning ways and get back into those top two positions, but I am sure they will be aware of what we can do and have done to teams at the top end of the division already this season.”
The clash with Paul Clement’s men back at Deepdale in September was one of those that showed how ruthless the Championship can be, but the PNE chief feels his side have improved in tking chances since then, but still have room for improvement.
“I still think we can be punishing teams even more. If you look back over our last few games we have had chances and not taken them.
“That comes with confidence and having that ruthless streak in you that can make the difference between good players and great players.
“We are working hard as a group day in and day out to keep churning out the results that have so far made us a decent team,” he added.