Bees D-day for PNE

Will Bailey Wright return in place of Jack King (right) on Good Friday at Brentford?
Will Bailey Wright return in place of Jack King (right) on Good Friday at Brentford?
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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson faces a selection dilemma on Good Friday as his team travel to face promotion rivals Brentford at Griffin Park.

In what is arguably North End’s biggest game of the season so far, the PNE boss must decide whether to hand recalls to 23-goal leading scorer Joe Garner and centre-back Bailey Wright.

The pair have played pivotal roles in the club’s quest for promotion this season but both missed the 6-1 mauling of Carlisle United at the weekend.

Wright was left on the bench to protect him from picking up his 10th booking of the season, which would have seen him incur an automatic two-match ban.

However, with the FA amnesty on cautions kicking in after last Saturday’s game, Wright will no longer serve a suspension should he pick up another yellow card in the remaining four league games of the season.

Garner was missing from the matchday squad altogether against his former club Carlisle after he dashed to hospital to be present at the birth of his daughter Hattie.

In his absence, on-loan striker Craig Davies took over the goalscoring baton and impressed with a 26-minute hat-trick.

Davies said: “Any team would miss Joe if he’s not playing because he’s a good player who has done really well this season.

“But we showed against Carlisle that there are other players in the team who can contribute goals, as well as the strikers.

“It will be a bonus when we get Joe back – there is some great competition for places.”

Grayson utilised Jack King at centre-back alongside Tom Clarke, with Keith Keane moving to right-back.

“We left Bailey Wright out because of the bookings situation – we didn’t want to be missing him at Brentford,” Grayson said.

“Keith Keane looked really strong at right-back – all the performances of the players were good on Saturday.

“We have always said it is a squad effort. Players have to be ready.”

Should North End emerge triumphant from their meeting with the Bees on Friday, it will leave the door to automatic promotion tantalisingly ajar.

Eight points currently separate second-placed Brentford and North End, who are in fifth spot.

Rotherham are in fourth on the same number of points as Grayson’s men, with Leyton Orient a point and a place ahead.

After the visit to Brentford, North End then welcome relegation-threatened Shrewsbury to Deepdale on Bank Holiday Monday

Grayson refuses to be drawn on where his men will finish at the end of the season but will head south in confident mood.

He added: “Our aim is to keep winning matches and see what happens. We’ve two games over Easter and we’ll see where we are after them.

“I’m delighted that after the win against Carlisle we can go into a big game at Brentford in a rich vein of form.

“We play Friday and Monday over Easter and will set our team up for both games to try and win them.

“We will train well this week and it is going to be a great day on Friday. It is Gentry Day and we will go down to London in good spirits.”

Davies added: “We have another big week ahead – this is not a chilling period, we have to make sure we keep our foot on the gas.

“If we could beat Brentford on Friday, that would be a massive result and who knows where that could lead us.”