PNE boss keeping squad together

Alan Browne is unlikely to be loaned out by PNE

Alan Browne is unlikely to be loaned out by PNE

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Simon Grayson will keep the bulk of his Preston North End squad at Deepdale for the promotion run-in to maintain a good range of selection options.

The depth of numbers in the dressing room has meant that some players are getting no further than a seat in the stand on matchdays.

But Lilywhites boss Grayson is reluctant to allow them out on loan to get first-team football, instead wanting them close at hand should they be needed for action as PNE push for automatic promotion.

The Football League’s loan window closes on Thursday, March 26, which will be the last chance for clubs to do business before the summer.

Grayson doubts at this stage he will bring anyone in and is of the mind that the squad will, in the main, stay together.

“I wouldn’t have thought we will look to sign anyone in on loan unless we are hit by a real turn of events,” said Grayson.

“We do keep our eye on the market to see what is out there and if there is something to make us better, we would look at it.

“But we have got some good options in the squad and are looking strong. Maybe one or two could go out for game time but that would be it.

“We have had enquiries for players who are too close to the first team to let out.

“As a club we have worked hard to get to where we are now, so why would we want to let people go and leave ourselves short?

“That might be harsh on one or two players but we need every option available.”

It could be that players like Lee Holmes and Ben Davies would be allowed out on loan.

Holmes has played only once in the first team this season and went to Portsmouth on loan in December for a month.

And while Davies started the campaign as first-choice left-back, his last appearance was at the end of August and he has since spent a loan spell at Tranmere.

North End currently have Keith Keane (Stevenage), Jack Ryan (Stockport), Jamie Jones (Rochdale) and Jordan Hugill (Tranmere) out on loan.

Two players Grayson will be looking to keep hold of despite them being out of the picture at the moment are Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill.

After being midfield regulars for a decent chunk of the campaign, they have slipped down the pecking order of late.

A re-shape of the engine room has seen John Welsh, Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson form an effective trio.

Said Grayson: “When you look at the situation, if they were playing really well and dominating games, they would be playing every week.

“But other players have contributed a little bit more and that is no disrespect to them.

“They are young kids and will have ups and downs. Both flew on to the scene last year and played a big part for us.

“Earlier this season they also affected games. Gally has dropped into that area of the park now, Daniel Johnson has come in – those two have done fantastically for us.

“You mention Alan and Josh, and Neil Kilkenny has dropped to the bench in the last few weeks.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the two young kids – they work hard in training to keep their fitness levels up ready for when an opportunity comes.

“Like any other player they are disappointed not to be playing. It isn’t a case of resting them or taking them off the scene, it is just because other players are doing a good job and the team is winning.

“I’ve told everyone in the squad that they could be called on and to stay ready. We had an 11-a-side on Tuesday to keep them ticking over.”