PNE boss backs keeper

PNE keeper Jamie Jones

PNE keeper Jamie Jones

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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has given his backing to goalkeeper Jamie Jones who has been on the end of criticism from some fans.

Fingers were pointed at Jones after the defeat to Bradford for what was seen as a lack of command of his box at corners and for crosses.

But, generally, Grayson is happy with the keeper and wants to see his side tighten up in front of Jones.

Grayson said: “Every keeper is different, Jamie Jones and Thorsten Stuckmann here are different builds and have different characteristics and qualities.

“Jamie, when he has been called on, has kept us in some games – he was man of the match at Leyton Orient the other week.

“He has made mistakes like any other goalkeeper does.

“We had a fine keeper here last season in Declan Rudd, who didn’t make many mistakes but still made a few.

“Declan raised the bar last season – he was the best keeper in League One by a country mile in my opinion.

“He has since gone back to a top club in the Championship.

“Whoever we brought in, we had to be wary of the level the previous year.

“When we are conceding goals it is a concern because I want us to keep clean sheets and win matches.

“We have given other teams a few too many chances.

“Our defending starts at the front end and continues through the midfield areas and into the defence.

“It is a team ethic that when we win games they all get the praise and when we get defeats we have to accept criticism, it is down to everyone.

“If players are not the strongest of tacklers I still expect them to at least go and close people down, stop the opposition from playing.

“That was something we didn’t do well enough against Bradford.”

Meanwhile, Grayson says that long-term casualities Andy Little and Bailey Wright are progressing down the road to recovery.

Little has been sidelined since September 13 when he suffered a hamstring strain in the defeat at Walsall.

When he had recovered from that and got back to training, the ex-Rangers front man picked up a calf injury to considerably delay his return.

Last month, Wright went under the surgeon’s knife to repair a groin problem which he had initially picked up during training with Australia at the World Cup.

Said Grayson: “Andy played 45 minutes of a reserve game on Tuesday against Fleetwood.

“He probably needs a little bit longer before he comes back into the squad, bearing in mind he’s been out for quite a long time.

“Bailey is back doing some running with the physio after his operation.

“In the next week or so we will up the tempo for him and it shouldn’t be long before he is back in training.

“Before the operation, Bailey – being Bailey – was declaring himself fit for matches but sometimes wasn’t doing himself justice because he was only 80% fit.

“It will be nice to have him available because he’s a winner, a leader and a good footballer.”