Destiny is in PNE hands – at top and bottom

Scott Wiseman (left) has returned to training
Scott Wiseman (left) has returned to training
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Preston North End will have a big say in the fight at the bottom of League One, in addition to what happens in the play-offs, when they play their final game of the regular season against Crewe on Saturday.

The Lilywhites’ sole focus at Gresty Road is to look after their own destiny in the upper reaches of the table.

But there will be a couple of teams looking to them for a favour when it comes to last-day survival.

Crewe sit a place and a point clear of the bottom four, with Tranmere and Carlisle below still able to catch them.

Tranmere – who play Bradford on Saturday – are a point behind the Railwaymen and have a marginally better goal difference.

Carlisle, in 22nd spot, trail Crewe by three points and their goal difference is three poorer.

The only club above Crewe with a realistic chance of dropping into the relegation zone are Notts County.

Shaun Derry’s Magpies side are a point better off than Alex and boast a superior goal difference.

County finish off at Oldham, with Carlisle having the daunting task of needing to win away at champions Wolves and for other results – Preston’s included – to go their way.

Crewe boss Steve Davis admits he will be keeping track of other scores during North End’s visit, and it will possibly affect the tactics his side employs.

Davis said: “It is vital we do know the results. I will be focusing on the game but those results will come out because we might want to change what we are doing.

“We have got to be professional to give ourselves the best chance.

“When we have had to get something from big games in the past, we have come up and been strong and got the positive result that we want.

“Whatever happens on Saturday it comes down to what we have done over the course of the season.

“The realisation is that we have to get a result, unless results go for us. But it is up to the players to come up with the right performance.”

North End will just aim to take care of themselves in Cheshire.

Victory would clinch third place and set up a semi-final tie with Peterborough.

Anything else and they will be waiting on what Leyton Orient and Rotherham do.

Like PNE, they both finish on the road – Orient at MK Dons, while Rotherham go to Swindon.

Preston may be in the box seat in terms of the play-off positions but they could yet finish fifth if they do not beat Crewe and the other two win.

PNE boss Simon Grayson has vowed to pick his strongest available side, and there could be a welcome return to the squad for Scott Wiseman.

The right-back resumed full training on Tuesday after a month on the sidelines with bone bruising in his knee.

As long as he comes through the sessions in the next two days, Wiseman should get a run-out at some stage on Saturday.

Grayson said: “It won’t be a weakened team by any stretch of the imagination for the Crewe game.

“It could actually be stronger than one or two teams I have put out in the last few weeks, injuries permitting.

“I will pick a team to try and win the game and finish third.”