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First Team News

Grayson On Return To Villa Park

19 January 2017

Manager Simon Grayson is looking forward to making his first return to Villa Park in a managerial capacity.

The PNE boss played for Villa between 1997 and 1999 and though he has returned as a player in the past, it will be the gaffer's first time in the opposing dugout. 
Reflecting on his time at the club, Grayson said: "I had a good spell there at Villa Park, I think it was a successful time for the club, we were up there in the Premier League for large parts, we were in Europe and got to the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup and other big games.
"So it's a great football club, with tradition and history, it's an iconic stadium, so it just shows you what can happen in football. A top team like that are now in the Championship and we are going head to head with them. 
"We are looking forward to it, obviously we have a few players who are going back there too who will be looking forward to it but ultimately like at every ground we go to this season it's one we want to get three points at." 
North End haven't faced Villa at Villa Park in league action since 1973, and the manager is hoping it's a happy first trip to the stadium for many PNE fans with a sell out away following this weekend. 
"I'm surprised that it's been so long since we've played there. So we will go there, they are unbeaten at home at this moment in time so it's a difficult place but those sort of records have to come to an end and we will go there in a positive manner, with a good attitude and looking to build off last week's performance and result as well. 
"There's good competition for places in the starting eleven and the 18 this weekend, whoever is out there we want to go out there and try and put on a performance and get another three points.  
The last encounter between the sides was back in October at Deepdale where North End were 2-0 winners but with a new manager in charge in Steve Bruce, Grayson expects a different test this time around. 
"I think he's changed it slightly in terms of being a bit different to play against but they still have those talented players as well so we are certainly aware of that.
"Steve is an experienced manager, he's got clubs out of the Championship into the Premier League so he is doing his upmost.
"They are unbeaten at home so the Villa faithful will be looking for another three points to push them towards the Play-Offs and hopefully get to the Premier League but we know their strenghts and weaknesses and hopefully we can capitalise on that and be the first to go there and inflict a defeat on them."

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