Big week beckons for PNE

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

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New Year signing Sylvan Ebanks-Blake will be in the Preston North End squad for the FA Cup clash with Norwich tomorrow which marks the start of a big week.

Ebanks-Blake, 28, has put pen to paper on a contract until the end of the season after being on trial with the Lilywhites for more than a month.

PNE boss Simon Grayson gave him the extended trial spell to work on his fitness and saw enough to add him to the squad.

Being a free agent, he was able to sign ahead of this morning’s opening of the transfer window, thus making him available for the visit of Norwich.

Former Wolves front man Ebanks-Blake said: “I am looking forward to the challenge.

“The training has been fantastic, the manager was very straight with me and that is what I have needed.

“From the first day I came in, the opportunity was presented to me to be a part of something and I have worked hard ever since to earn a contract.

“It is a new beginning for me. I have a difficult period for the first time in my career and it is how you come out of that.”

The Canaries visit Deepdale for the third round tie (3pm) in seventh place in the Championship.

On Wednesday, PNE turn their attention to the home leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern final against Walsall.

Then a week tomorrow it is back to League One action when they visit Sheffield United.

North End manager Simon Grayson is looking forward to the triple challenge and if needs be will use the depth of his squad to tackle them – Ebanks-Blake providing another option.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “This is a big week for us, with a Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule.

“We want to win all three games and the players are all up for a tough test.

“In terms of picking the team we will try and get the balance right, keep everyone as fresh as possible.

“Most of the squad are fit and available, we have had a virus going around but we did not get any new injuries during the games over Christmas.”

Norwich make the long trip from East Anglia in seventh place in the Championship, their priority this season to try and regain their Premier League status – one they lost in May.

They have kept a number of players on board from last term and Grayson says Neil Adams’ side will provide a stern test.

“Norwich are a club looking to get back to the Premier League,” said Grayson.

“When you look through their squad list they have got a tremendous depth to it.

“Whatever team they put out, we will do our best against them.

“We tested ourselves against Ipswich last year at this stage of the FA Cup and eventually got through after a replay.

“Then we gave a very good of ourselves in the two games against Nottingham Forest.

“So we have shown that we can play well against sides from the Championship.

“The priority is the league game at Sheffield United and the JPT tie with Walsall but we go into every game with the intention of winning it.”