It’s tough at the Turf for PNE

Stevie May has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury

Stevie May has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury

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Preston North End face one of the toughest assignments in the Championship this weekend when they take on derby rivals Burnley at Turf Moor.

The Clarets have lost only three times out of the last 36 games in front of their own supporters in the second tier of English football.

Only Reading have managed to return home from a trip to East Lancashire with three points this season.

And during the 2013/14 campaign, 15 home victories and just two defeats propelled Sean Dyche’s men to a season in the Premier League.

Although their stint in the top flight was shortlived, they have continued where they left-off in the Championship this season.

The Clarets currently lie in fifth spot in the table – four points adrift of leaders Brighton – and North End boss Simon Grayson knows his men face a stern test of their credentials this weekend.

“There’s no getting away from it – it’s a derby match and it means a lot to both sets of supporters,” Grayson said. “

“But ultimately it is always going to be a tough game for us, not because of geographical reasons but because they are a team which has just been relegated from the Premier League.

“They have parachute payments, they’ve kept the nucleus of the squad together and invested heavily. They are desperate to get back in the Premier League.

“So take away the derby nature of the game, it’s a very difficult test for us.

Grayson believes the way Burnley achieved promotion on a small budget 18 months ago can give North End hope as they attempt to plot a way of reaching the promised land in the future.

“I think it can give us heart,” said Grayson. “If you can put together a team with some quality, but ultimately with a fantastic team spirit, it can take you a long way.

“Teams who have more money – it can help to get better players, but if you have got that togetherness and spirit in the dressing room, you can achieve things.

“We have a fantastic spirit here. We would like to replicate what they have done, whether that’s this year, next year or whenever.

“They are an example to other teams that you don’t need to spend loads of money to get promoted.”

Meanwhile, Grayson revealed that striker Stevie May faces a long road to recovery after a scan confirmed that he had suffered knee ligament damage.

The Scotland international has been ruled out for the season after getting injured in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw at Fulham.

Grayson said: “Everybody connected with the club is devastated for the lad because he’s a good kid, but hopefully he will come back stronger.”