Simon Grayson admits to being surprised by Preston North End’s lowly position in League One on the evidence of what he’s seen of his new charges so far.
he recently-appointed North End boss has had a handful of training sessions and Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Swindon Town to assess the squad.
First impressions have been encouraging, and he is hoping that trend can continue this weekend when PNE visit MK Dons.
Grayson said: “From what I’ve seen it is a mystery to see where we are in the table.
“But what’s happened in the past is history, I can’t affect that.
“All I can do now is affect the future and what we are trying to do for the rest of the season.
“We have got some difficult games coming up, but the players seem to thrive when the games are more difficult.
“It’s MK Dons next and that’s not going to be easy.
“But we go there in good spirits.
“The players have a buzz about them and there’s a sense in the dressing room that they are really enjoying what they are doing at this moment in time.
“I’m not saying they didn’t enjoy it before, but there’s a real togetherness and only time will tell whether this group is good enough to go up the divisions.
“We will work hard with them to try and achieve that.”
An aspect of North End’s game which caught the eye of Grayson against Swindon, was their ability to push forward on the counter-attack.
Will Hayhurst’s goal at the County Ground was well-worked from their own half, much to the new manager’s approval.
Said Grayson: “We had to make sure we were pretty hard to beat, and we worked hard on our shape in training.
“We worked hard on what we needed to do when we didn’t have possession of the ball.
“But when teams are attacking us, there will be opportunities to break.
“When you’ve got people like Nicky Wroe and Lee Holmes on one side and Will Hayhurst on the other, with Jack King and Stuart Beavon up front, you’ll always have opportunities.
“If the game is too open then you don’t get those opportunities because it becomes like a basketball match.
“On Saturday we were hard to beat and we had the quality and desire to break quickly to cause Swindon problems.
“The goal we scored was a really well-worked goal, a quick move with a lot of good interaction of different players moving around.”
With regard to selection issues for the MK Dons game, Grayson hopes to have joint top scorer Beavon available.
The striker hurt his left arm late in the Swindon game and had to be substituted.
While serious damage was suspected, Beavon revealed on Twitter that his arm was okay, ‘just badly bruised’.
Keith Keane will miss the MK Dons game and Stevenage’s visit to Deepdale a week on Saturday.
The right-back’s booking at Swindon was his 10th of the season, triggering a two-match suspension.