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Simon Grayson On Toughest Test

27 October 2016

North End manager Simon Grayson is looking forward to the team’s latest challenge as they look to extend their six match unbeaten league run.

The Lilywhites entertain the league leaders at Deepdale this weekend in front of what looks set to be the first 20,000-plus league crowd of the campaign at PR1, having played fourth, third and second in the last few weeks.

And as a month that, on paper, looked to be a challenging one for the Lilywhites, comes to an end with the clash with the Magpies, the gaffer is hoping to finish it as it began, beating one of the teams relegated from the Premier League last season.

“We have taken ten points from 12 available, all against teams at the top and now we have a game that couldn’t be any bigger, the league leaders and a side that has just turned us over,” he said, looking ahead of the visit of United.

“They are a very good team, but we can’t away from how well we have played recently.

“We have been solid, we have worked hard, we have scored goals and we need to do that better at the weekend.

“We have had four home wins on the trot and only conceded one goal, so we have been very effective at Deepdale. There will be a fantastic atmosphere and we have done well at home against the big teams of late, with some good performances and there will be a fire in the belly from three o’clock on Saturday.

“In the last few games we have been at it from the start. We have got in amongst teams, stopped them from playing, doing our jobs as individuals and working collectively as a team and that’s what led us to the victories that we achieved.”

Aston Villa, Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town and Norwich City have come and gone in October and the PNE chief admitted that when he looked at the fixtures, this was a testing spell.

“When the fixtures came out in June, regardless of the cup game, you felt that Newcastle at home was going to be one of the toughest games of the season, given where they have come, their budget and the players they have got,” he continued.

“So it is the toughest game of the season on paper. We are respectful of them, but we allowed them to play too easily on Tuesday night and we have to make sure that we stop good players from playing and implement our own game as well.

“It is a game that everybody should be looking forward to. I am sure the supporters are and that there will be a great atmosphere and let’s respond in a positive way again.”

The teams will both be very different on Saturday to those that faced each other at St James’ Park on Tuesday night, with the respective managers having made 16 changes between them for the EFL Cup tie and the North End boss also has others back in contention after injury and being cup tied.

“We need to make sure we put out a team that is hard to beat; who do their individual jobs within the collective framework of the group.

“We know how they will play system wise, we just have to make sure we do everything we can to go and win the game, whether that is playing nice football or working hard and doing the ugly side of the game, we just want another three points and to earn another big scalp, which if we win will be a good result.

“People will come back into the equation who were out of the team on Tuesday night. Jermaine Beckford was back on the bench on Tuesday, Marnick would have been involved if he hadn’t been cup tied and Aiden McGeady is back in full training as well, so we will have a few more players available to us.

“We have been in a fortunate position in terms of results to be able to give these players a bit of extra time to make sure they are fully recovered and to drop straight back in and it gives us options for the weekend,” he added.

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