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Club News

Simon Grayson Delighted With Selection Headache

31 March 2016

Manager Simon Grayson will have some difficult decisions this weekend as he welcomes the likes of Browne, Beckford, Garner and Huntington into contention.

For the first time in more than a month the Lilywhites boss will have fit players who do not make the 18 for the clash with local rivals Blackburn Rovers.

And after a two week hiatus the Lilywhites boss is looking forward to making the tough decisions: “The international break came at a good time for us,” he said. “It gave us a chance to get a few of the lads who missed that game available for this weekend.

“The two weeks has been good for us. We have had a chance to have a good amount of work and some rest and get some players back to fitness levels in time for this weekend.

“We will have Beckford having had an extra two weeks training, Browne will be available, Paul Huntington will be available, Bailey Wright is back this morning after a couple of decent victories for Australia and Joe Garner is free from suspension. So for the first time in a long while we will have more than 18 players available.

“It will be nice to have a few selection problems this weekend with such an important game.

“Jermaine played another 60 minutes in a game against Oldham on Tuesday where he scored one and had another disallowed. He has been working hard over the last couple of weeks and we will put him back in at the right time.”

North End will be backed by a 7,000 following at Ewood Park and the gaffer admitted his excitement at leading the team in front of their biggest away crowd in 16 years.

“It is going to be a special game,” he continued. “To have 7,000 supporters travelling any football match is a fantastic effort from that football club and there are a lot bigger clubs in this division who have not got anywhere near selling that allocation.

“It has been a fantastic effort and we have always put on some decent performances when there has been a big away following – especially in the local derbies like the Bolton and Burnley games. We want to try and replicate those kind of performances and give the supporters something to cheer about when they go home after the game.

“We know we are in for a tough game, but it will be an electric atmosphere, as it was at Deepdale. They rought 5,500 fans to us and it just shows what this game means to a lot of people.

“It is a tough game. They have a good record at home – having won four out of five and they had a good victory at Brentford on their travels last time out. They have some good players. When you look at Paul’s squad, he had a good squad before he went in and he has recruited extra players in the likes of Gomez, Grimes and Danny Graham.

“They will be disappointed where they are in the table because of the expectancy levels at that football club, but it is a tough division and no-one has the right to be in the top six. We have to make sure we earn our right in the game, win our battles and try and play football when we can do.

“My son Joe is a first year apprentice and is part of the youth team that has got to the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup so I spend quite a bit of time watching him. I enjoyed my time there and we have players and coaches who have been there and they have Alan [Irvine] and Rob [Kelly] who have managed our football club, but that all goes out of the window at 12.30pm and everyone will be desperate for the victory and hopefully it is the PNE people who are celebrating at the final whistle.”

The last time the two sides met, back in November, it was Paul Lambert’s first game in charge of the east Lancashire outfit, but the PNE chief believes his side have made significant progress since that game: “It shows how far we have come to see where we are now from the last time we played them.

“Yes they beat us, but it was a close game and they got the breaks with the deflected goal and the penalty, but from then on we played very well. Since then we have been really consistent and have gone up the division and remained up there.

“We still have a lot to play for and the players are still fighting for each other and making sure they do the best that they can.

“We have come a long way since then and that is reflected in the table; where a lot of bigger teams, on paper, are below us in the table,” he added.

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