There are going to be some tough decisions for manager Simon Grayson when he comes to name his 18 man squad on Friday evening.
But after an impressive display by a team with ten changes at Premier League Bournemouth on Tuesday night, the gaffer admits he will have to think very carefully about his final selection, especially considering the fact that many of that starting XI played for 120 minutes at the Vitality Stadium.
“It will be difficult for those who have played on Tuesday to play again, because most of them have played for 120 minutes and it is a decision we have to look into very carefully,” said the North End boss. “Those 120 minutes take a lot out of you physically and mentally and a lot of them have not played much football over the past few weeks.
“The last thing we want is to play them based on just how well they did the other night, we have to see the bigger picture of ‘are they still going to be tired?’. ‘Are they going to still be able to play with the tempo and energy they did to get around the pitch on Tuesday night?’.
“So all those things are up to us to decide, but what the players have done is answered the question I asked them – are they ready? Are they fit? And can they show enough with their performance to make me consider them for Friday night and everyone who played on Tuesday night has done that.
“There were some very good strong individual performances within the team performance.
“We have different ways of testing the players to see if they are ready. Wednesday was a recovery session and Thursday is a light session, so we have a bit of time to decide. If you ask the players themselves, they will all want to play, but we will analyse it and speak to the medical department, because we don’t want to risk starting with someone who might get injured in the first ten or 15 minutes, which doesn’t help the team or the individual, but the good thing from my point of view is that I have those options and decisions to make rather than worrying that players can’t give me what we need from them.”
The visitors to Deepdale are Wigan Athletic, travelling to PR1 for the first time in a competitive league encounter since 2005 and the manager is looking forward to renewing rivalries with a local opponent.
“Hopefully we do the same things as the last home game,” he continued. “We carried on from the second half against Barnsley with the Cardiff performance, where we dominated, and we have to do the same thing on Friday night.
“We have to play with a tempo, play with an energy about us and be clinical in both boxes. We have to make sure we don’t give the opposition many chances and when the opportunities come along for us to get chances, let’s take them and be ruthless.
“It’s a local derby. We had some great derby matches last year with Blackburn, Burnley and Bolton and come Monday morning, when the supporters go into work with supporters of the opposition, hopefully our supporters have the bragging rights.
“They are very much like ourselves this time last year - they are adjusting to life in the Championship, but they recruited well, they have parachute payments still and the first port of call from them, like us last year, will be to make sure they stay in the division, but with the ambition of being further up the division and as high as they can be, because it is a long season.
“We know they have some threats and some good experienced players, but we want to try and build off what we did on Tuesday night, for 75 minutes against Brentford and last Tuesday night against Cardiff.”