Low expectation levels can work in PNE’s favour

Return?: Jack King could be back against Bournemouth

Return?: Jack King could be back against Bournemouth

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Preston caretaker boss John Dreyer feels that the pressure might slightly be off his side when they tackle league leaders Bournemouth tomorrow.

On paper anyway, the Deepdale clash looks an away banker with the Cherries having jet-propelled themselves from the relegation zone to top spot in a matter of months.

North End have been in meltdown at home since the autumn, and generally out of form everywhere for the last three months, Graham Westley paying the price with his job on Wednesday.

Hence Dreyer finds himself wearing the caretaker’s coat for the visit of the Cherries, holding the fort while a permanent replacement for Westley is sought.

The temporary role is never an easy one in football, a bit like finding yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Caretakers tend to replace someone who has brought them to the club in the first place – Dreyer came with Westley 13 months ago.

And they know that ultimately they’re just warming the seat for someone else, that is unless they enjoy a run of results to land the job themselves.

Dreyer’s focus is merely fixed on tomorrow afternoon and getting an under-performing North End side back on kilter.

He said: “I see the Bournemouth game as an opportunity and the one thing we have in our favour is expectation.

“Of course expectation comes from within and it will certainly come from me.

“But I wouldn’t from the outside looking in, there is not a lot of expectation in terms of a result on this game in view of how we’ve done recently.

“We have maybe got a little bit less pressure on us than in recent home games, that something which might help us.

“That is not to say we are going to give up the ghost and hand Bournemouth the three points.

“Let’s make it clear, that is certainly not going to be the case.

“We are going to go out there and fight, we are going to play our football and try and win the game. I just see the Bournemouth game as a great opportunity.

“On paper it is daunting but I won’t be looking at it that way.”

Dreyer hopes to get a helping hand in terms of an emptying treatment room, injuries having recently reduced selection options.

Chris Beardsley, scorer of PNE’s goal at Yeovil on Tuesday night, will be available despite having a broken little toe at the moment.

It will be hoped that he can be joined in the squad by Stuart Beavon and Jack King who have both sat out the last two games.

Said Dreyer: “We’ve had too many players in the treatment room, we’ve missed them.

“Slowly but surely some of them are on the mend and it will be good to have a few more of the lads fit.

“Ask any manager in the country, all they want to do is put their best XI out there – I’m no different.

“My preparation for the game comes on the back of quite an unusual week with everything that has happened.

“Some of the lads didn’t get back from Yeovil until 5am on Wednesday morning.

“I have to take that into consideration in terms of my preparation.

“I feel I have to say to the players, but at the same time, I don’t want to cram their heads with too much information and too many instructions.

“What I want is for their minds to be free to play the game tomorrow, things have to be right for them.

“The preparation for this game has to be done very carefully.”

Dreyer has managed before, albeit at Conference South level with Maidenhead, while he also had a stint as caretaker at Stevenage.

In 2006 he linked-up with Westley.

Born in Alnwick, Northumberland, he moved down south as a youngster, with his football career starting at non-league Wallingford Town. He moved into the Football League at Oxford, before joining Luton where he played the bulk of his senior career as a full back and in midfield.

From there, Dreyer went to Stoke, played twice for Bolton in a loan spell – both games being play-off semi-finals –then went to Bradford who he helped get promotion into the Premier League.

He later played for Cambridge United and Stevenage before hanging up his boots to concentrate on a career in coaching.

Dreyer looks back on his playing days with plenty of satisfaction.

“I came late into the full-time game, arriving from a non-league background,” said the 49-year-old.

“I played a lot my football in what was the Old First Division before I got to the Premier League with Bradford.

“That was a great swansong in my career and I’m fortunate to have been able to stay in football on the coaching side.”