No play-off talk for PNE

Daniel Johnson
Daniel Johnson
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Simon Grayson is keeping Preston North End’s ambitions for the season in-house, with safety the only target up for discussion.

The Lilywhites go into this afternoon’s visit to Ipswich in 13th place and chasing a fourth Championship win in a row.

They have put a 13-point gap between themselves and third-bottom Bristol City, the side they beat in midweek.

Looking the other way, North End are 10 points behind today’s hosts Ipswich and Brighton who are fifth and sixth respectively.

PNE boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “We are not shouting about what we want to do.

“Our aim, first and foremost is to stay up, and that is where our focus is. Beyond that, we will see what happens.

“I see people at clubs below us in the table saying they have a chance of the play-offs, that is up to them to talk about.

“From day one, we have said the target is to stay up and finish as high as we can do.”

For the Ipswich clash, Grayson is expected to stick closely with the side which beat Bristol City.

He recalled Calum Woods at Ashton Gate, putting him in at right wing-back in place of Marnick Vermijl.

Grayson explained the change was down to freshness rather than form.

“Marnick has been very good for us over the last few weeks but sometimes you need to bring a bit of freshness into the team,” he said.

“Calum was fresh after a few games on the bench and it was good to bring in his energy.

“Players need a rest every now and then, you could see on Tuesday night at Bristol City how being rested for the Peterborough game had benefited Daniel Johnson.

“I thought DJ looked really sharp at Bristol and did well.”

Adam Reach is the main doubt for today because of a knee injury he suffered in training on Monday and felt again in the warm-up before the Bristol City game.

Grayson is looking forward to locking horns with Ipswich and hopefully avenging a 2-1 defeat to the Tractor Boys at Deepdale in August.

Casting his eye over today’s opponents, he said: “We gave Ipswich two very good games in the FA Cup a couple of years ago and beat them in the replay at our place.

“Earlier this season, it was a really good game at Deepdale against them and we got beat because of two moments of brilliant finishing.

“If we are going to get a result there, we will have to work very hard – as you have to if you are to win any game in this division.

“Ipswich have some good players, Daryl Murphy has been scoring goals, while Jonathan Douglas and Cole Skuse are good midfielders.

“Douglas is a player I had with me at Leeds, he’s an experienced professional and it was a good move for him when he joined Ipswich from Brentford last summer.

“We know their strengths and I’m sure Ipswich will be aware of ours.”