It’s home sweet home for PNE

Joe Garner
Joe Garner
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Preston North End make a brief visit home to Deepdale tomorrow with Simon Grayson hoping to see a return to winning ways in League One.

The Roses battle with Bradford represents a rare appearance in front of the home faithful during a travel-laden schedule of late. Five of PNE’s last six matches have been away from home, with the players and fans travelling 1,956 miles by train, plane and automobile.

After hosting Bradford, they are then back on the road for three games in which they will put another 972 miles on the clock, going to Bristol City, Oldham and Yeovil.

The Lilywhites did have the option of asking for this game to be postponed because of international call-ups.

Scott Wiseman is with the Gibraltar squad, while Callum Robinson, Alan Browne and Will Hayhurst might be away.

However, calling it off would have left Deepdale without a fixture for six weeks. PNE boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “We looked at whether to call it off but we felt we had the strength in depth to cover those players who might be on international duty.

“We have not played at home for quite a while and we felt this was a good opportunity to get back to Deepdale where we have been on a good run.

“Given the number of away games we have had, it is good to be back at home. This should be a very good game and there will be added spice with it being a Lancashire-versus-Yorkshire battle.”

North End have lost their last two league games but hit a winning note at Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup on Monday night.

Beating Bradford would keep them in second place for the visit to leaders Bristol City a week tomorrow.

Said Grayson: “It was good to win at Havant – we didn’t want to lose three on the trot.

“Looking at the bigger picture of our league form, we have won seven of our last nine league games and lost two.

“Had we been offered that return in advance, I’m sure we would have been delighted with it. There is only Bristol City in this division who, at the moment, wouldn’t want to swap places with us.”

Grayson’s biggest selection issue will be who stands in for Wiseman at right-back.

Calum Woods provides a like-for-like swap but has not played for more than six weeks because of a hamstring strain.

Elsewhere in the team, top scorer Joe Garner will return to the attack after being rested for the Havant game.

“It was a chance to give Joe a breather but also to give Kevin Davies some game time,” said Grayson.

“Kev had been doing well in recent games coming off the bench and he’s a fantastic replacement for Joe.

“Even when we were 2-0 and 3-0 up, Joe was itching to come on because he sensed goals.

“When we got the penalty he was asking could he come on and take it!”

Meanwhile, North End have launched a ‘Deepdale Dozen’ half season ticket, with fans able to get 12 games for the price of nine.

It comes into force for the January 3 clash with Yeovil and the deal includes a 25% discount on advance fares with Virgin Trains.

The half-season tickets went on sale this morning and are available for all three home stands.