Ryan Lowe feels there’s plenty of competition for places ahead of Friday’s Lancashire derby against Blackburn Rovers.
North End, who won 4-1 on their last visit to Ewood Park, will look to see in the international break with another positive result against their local rivals.
With a few players – Calvin Ramsay and Andrew Hughes – potentially back available after recovering from injury, as well as those who may not have been involved as much as they’d have liked in recent weeks looking for more minutes, there’s a real battle for a place in Friday’s starting XI.
Ryan said: “There’s a little bit of good needle in training because everyone wants to get in the team.
“Especially when you’re playing your local rivals and it’s live on Sky, everyone wants to be a part of it and play.
“That’s good for me to know that I’ve got 22/23/24 players all champing at the bit when needed and called upon.
“The battles out there on the training ground are frisky and that’s what I want because I want people fighting for their places and that’s certainly what they’re doing.
“In terms of training when we’ve lost, drawn or won, the training doesn’t change. Their attitude and application is different class.
“Obviously when you have come off the back of a good win, against a good team – and Blackburn have come off the back of a good win – it’s set up for an interesting derby.”
The gaffer has had mixed experiences of facing Rovers while in charge of North End, having won, drawn and lost once each.
Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side currently sit just outside of the top six and three points below PNE, who occupy the final Play-Off spot as things stand.
On Blackburn, Ryan said: “They play a different type of football and they want to play through the thirds and out from the back, and we’ve got to be ready for that.
“They’ve also got firepower at the top end of the pitch and some fast, nippy players.
“We know that we’ve got to be at our best because they’re a good team.
“They’ve been doing fantastically well and we’ve just got to make sure we go there with a positive mindset and attitude and take the game to them.”
PNE could be boosted by the returns of the aforementioned Ramsay and Hughes.
Liverpool loanee Ramsay recently returned to Euxton after a period of rehabilitation with his parent club and played 45 minutes in the Lancashire Senior Cup earlier in the week, while North End’s No.16 has been back in training in recent days.
Speaking about Calvin firstly, Ryan said: “He's fine. He’ll train today (Thursday).
“He recovered yesterday and he’ll train again today. He’ll be in the squad for tomorrow, whether he’s used or picked for the bench we don’t know yet because there’s a couple of lads in that situation.
“Hughesy’s the same, but it’s just good to have them back training with us on a daily basis and coming through them games.
“We want to get more minutes into them, of course.”