PNE boss Grayson happy with start

Andy Little returned to the Preston squad in midweek after missing the win at Scunthorpe

Andy Little returned to the Preston squad in midweek after missing the win at Scunthorpe

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Simon Grayson is looking for Preston North End to turn a solid start into a strong one by taking three points against Oldham at Deepdale tomorrow.

The Lilwyhites are unbeaten in their opening four league and cup games, recording two wins and two draws.

Had they managed to hold out a little longer at Doncaster in midweek, then they would have had another victory to their name.

As it was, they drew 1-1 after Donny pegged them back in stoppage time.

North End boss Grayson said: “I’m quite pleased with where we are.

“I’ve seen progression from pre-season, in terms of fitness levels, the way the team is shaping up and individual performances.

“We are undefeated after the first four games and could have had a couple more points on the board had we won on Tuesday night.

“But overall there have been some tricky games for us which we have managed well and I’m positive about where we are.”

While PNE picked up the usual bumps and knocks from the Doncaster game, Grayson expects to have a near fully-fit squad to select from.

Andy Little returned to the bench in midweek after missing the Scunthorpe game with a slight muscle strain.

He joined the action at Donny as a second-half substitute and will be pushing for a start tomorrow.

Preston letting in another late equaliser on Tuesday has concerned supporters.

Grayson admits that their game-management has to be better after similar outcomes last season.

He said: “I’m aware that we dropped points last season and we know that we need to manage the game better in the latter stages. I was reading some stats yesterday which show that we have scored more goals in the last 10 minutes of games since I have been here than we have conceded.

“We do need to understand the game a bit better towards the end, especially the younger lads – but we are not the only club that this has happened to and we won’t be the last.”

Grayson did some outgoing transfer business last night, with midfielder Joel Byrom joining Northampton on loan until January 4.

The Cobblers showed a keen interest in Byrom in the second half of last season and have at last got their man.

First-team chances at PNE have been limited since last autumn for Byrom, and he spent time on loan at Oldham towards the end of last term.

It is likely that a couple more players on the fringes of the first team might have to move out before any incoming business is done.

Byrom is the third player to be loaned out by Preston, with Stuart Beavon at Burton and Jack Ryan is getting first-team experience at Stockport.

Grayson is pleased to have no more distractions regarding Joe Garner’s future, the striker having signed a new two-year contract this week.

Even had Garner not agreed a deal, North End would have kept hold of him for the remainder of his old contract.

“Joe signing was great news earlier in the week and he has the scope to get even better,” said Grayson.

“I was given assurances by the people above me that we would not sell Joe – while every player has their price, no one would have got near it.

“Even if he hadn’t agreed a new contract, we would have kept him for this season and then allowed him to go on a free transfer next summer.

“The policy of the owner was that we got him on a free transfer and so would have let him leave on a free.”

Meanwhile, PNE’s visit to Leyton Orient scheduled for September 6, has been postponed due to international call-ups.

Chris Humphrey (Jamaica), Bailey Wright (Australia) and Scott Wiseman (Gibraltar) have been selected and Little is on standby for Northern Ireland.

Alan Browne and Will Hayhurst could yet be called up by the Republic of Ireland.

There is no new date yet for the Orient game.