Home comforts for PNE squad

Simon Grayson

Simon Grayson

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Simon Grayson gave his Preston North End players a taste of home yesterday in readiness for the Championship opener against Middlesbrough on Sunday.

The Lilywhites boss put the squad through their paces on the Deepdale pitch rather than at Springfields.

It gave them the chance to get used to the ground again after playing there just the once during pre-season, while it afforded Grayson a closed coaching session away from public eyes.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “This last week of pre-season is focused more on the tactical side of things and how we are going to play.

“We trained at Deepdale because it is a couple of weeks since the lads played against Hearts there, it was a good opportunity to play on the pitch again.

“It is part of the preparation to make sure everything is right for the Middlesbrough game on Sunday.

“The pitch is in perfect condition and I’m sure the players can’t wait to get back out there for the first game.”

As things stand, North End will head into Boro’s visit having done five pieces of incoming transfer business.

Jermaine Beckford and Paul Gallagher signed two-year contracts after being on loan last season.

Will Keane and Jordan Pickford have been brought in on season-long loans from Manchester United and Sunderland respectively.

Greg Cunningham joined from Bristol City.

Grayson has more recruiting to do, the right-back slot an area of priority – PNE officials have been trying to get a deal done this week after missing out on Tendayi Darikwa.

“Every club ideally wants every signing done and dusted early on so you can work with the players,” said Grayson.

“A lot of clubs, ourselves included, haven’t done all their business yet.

“We have done some things, working within our budget and we’ve made a big effort to keep with the hard core of players from last season.

“I genuinely believe that togetherness, spirit and quality we have got will go a long way towards helping us this season in the Championship.

“We know that we still need a couple of players and will continue our efforts to do that.

“As a club we try and do our business quietly, people won’t know half of the deals we have been trying to do or about many of the players we have spoken to.

“We obviously got let down on a deal last week but more times than not, the players we have been after we have got.

“People seem to forget that Becks and Gally could have gone somewhere else after their loans finished.

“We pushed the boat out to get them, while the other boys we have brought into the club had options of going to other Championship clubs.

“There are a couple of places to fill in terms of giving us strength in depth but we won’t just go for anybody.”