PNE boss has embarrassment of riches

Jermaine Beckford
Jermaine Beckford
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  • Beckford back in the groove after ear infection
  • North End have vast array of forward options
  • Club appeals to fans over use of flares
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Simon Grayson says his range of options up front now allow him to adopt a ‘horses for courses’ approach when it comes to Preston North End’s attack.

After being thin on numbers in attacking positions only a few weeks ago, Lilywhites boss Grayson now has Joe Garner, Jermaine Beckford, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Kevin Davies and Andy Little at his disposal.

It was a scary time for the lad himself, a step into the unknown really.

Garner has led the line in the last six games after coming back from shin surgery, two sub appearances before that easing him into action.

Loan man Beckford has been in the limelight in the last week after twice coming off the bench to score as a substitute, albeit in different circumstances.

He wrapped up the scoring in the 4-0 win at Oldham then volleyed a dramatic equaliser as North End drew 2-2 with Doncaster on Tuesday night.

Ebanks-Blake came off the bench with him in the Oldham game, Davies doing so against Donny.

Although Little is available after recovering from a groin strain, he has fallen behind the others in the pecking order.

When Preston’s form dipped in January, they were leaning heavily on Beckford and Davies for their firepower.

Ebanks-Blake was building his sharpness, while Garner and Little were sidelined.

Beckford then got laid low by an ear infection which led to a three-game spell when Davies and Ebanks-Blake were the only fit forwards.

Grayson said: “It is nice to turn round and see the options we now have on the bench.

“We did not have that firepower in January when we had that sticky spell.

“Having them all back means it can be horses for courses in terms of how we use our subs in games.

“At Oldham, Jermaine came on with Sylvan – we didn’t need Kevin’s physical presence that day.

“The other night we brought on Kevin because we wanted to get hold of the ball more and his presence helped us to do that. It was then a toss-up between Jermaine and Sylvan who are both good finishers.

“I just felt Jermaine might have something in his locker and that proved right.”

Beckford’s return has been a big plus, the severe inner ear infection he was hit by keeping him out for five weeks.

The five goals he has netted in North End colours have come in his last 10 games.

Grayson said: “It was touch and go at one stage whether he would play again this season.

“When Jermaine saw the specialist and got the all clear it was a big boost for us and him.

“It was a scary time for the lad himself, a step into the unknown really.

“He spent two weeks in bed with the illness because of the symptoms.

“The specialist gave him reassurance that he could train again even though he would still feel some symptoms.

“We all saw how well he hit the ball for the equaliser the other night, he hit it with the finesse that Premier League players would.

“That is why he has played there and got the moves he has in his career.”

Meanwhile, the FA have again been in touch with North End after another flare was let off during the Oldham game.

They have asked for the club’s observations, this following similar incidents at Bristol City in November and during last month’s FA Cup tie with Manchester United.

Grayson used his column in PNE’s match day programme for the Doncaster game to ask those bringing flares to games not to do so.

He said: “The passion you supporters show is great, but I do ask, whoever it is who lets off the flares, please don’t.

“They may look good but they could hurt someone and the club could be fined by the FA.”