PNE assess walking wounded

Joe Garner took a bang in the rib cage at Walsall but hopes to be fit tonight
Joe Garner took a bang in the rib cage at Walsall but hopes to be fit tonight
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Simon Grayson will run some late fitness checks over Preston North End’s walking wounded this morning before finalising his plans for the Deepdale clash with Chesterfield tonight.

The PNE boss is definitely without Andy Little – who has a muscle tear – and the suspended Jordan Hugill for the visit of the Spireites.

Whether the absentee list grows will be determined by the fitness tests being conducted on others who are carrying knocks from the weekend defeat at Walsall.

Joe Garner and Kevin Davies both took bangs in the ribs on Saturday, although Garner’s knock almost straight after kick-off did not stop him finding the net.

Chris Humphrey, Jack King and Neil Kilkenny all needed treatment at some point or other in the Walsall game.

Grayson said: “We assessed everyone on Sunday morning and yesterday we had a group who trained.

“One or two lads will be a last-minute thing and are probably touch and go.

“We have to deal with it, we have a squad which we think is strong enough to deal with situations like this.

“It isn’t ideal because I want as many players available as possible.

“But we will put out a side which I think is capable of winning against Chesterfield.

“The fitness tests will be in the morning – we need to know where are by lunchtime so that I can do some more preparation.”

It is the forward line which has been the hardest hit, with two strikers ruled out and two more having treatment.

Paul Gallagher could play off the main striker if required, while the 4-3-3 system favoured in most of the games this season needs just the one striker with the support of wingers and runners from midfield.

Grayson took some stick from fans in the fallout of the Walsall defeat, in particular about the team changes he has made from game to game.

He accepts the criticism is part and parcel of football management, and sought to explain his selections.

Said Grayson: “I pick a team every week to try and win the match. I look at the opposition at times, I look at how players have done and if they are carrying an injury.

“Sometimes people don’t see what is going off on the training pitch. I see the players every day and might notice they are a little bit down in their quality and performance.

“We have the GPS system in place which keeps an eye on the players – if you overload them they might pick-up long-term injuries.

“It is my job to try and pick a team which has the best chance of winning a game, using the information I have.

“Am I the best manager in the world who gets it right every time? No, I’m not.

“We analyse every game we play, win or lose, see what we can do better. On Sunday morning we looked back at Saturday’s match.

“There might have been things we did wrong in the early part of the week.

“Did I get the selection wrong? That is a possibility.

“But every decision I make and my staff make is done for the right reasons, thinking we will get the right result.”