PNE boss’s season to be jolly!

Neil Kilkenny could start for PNE on Boxing Day at Huddersfield
Neil Kilkenny could start for PNE on Boxing Day at Huddersfield
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Simon Grayson hopes that Preston North End’s exploits on the pitch this Christmas can match-up to his anticipation of the festive schedule.

The PNE boss is a big fan of Christmas football and will see his side play Huddersfield, Hull City and Rotherham over the coming days.

It is Huddersfield first at the John Smith’s Stadium on Boxing Day, before Hull come to Deepdale on Monday.

Rotherham then pay a visit here a week on Saturday for the first game of 2016.

The North End squad are being given Christmas Day off in the build-up, Grayson having done likewise last year.

Grayson said: “I think this is a fantastic part of the football calendar, Christmas matches are part of the history and tradition.

“People have spoken about winter breaks but Christmas is an important time for the game in this country.

“Supporters want an excuse to get out of the house, get a little bit of fresh air and nurse their hangovers.

“It is a great game for us at Huddersfield on Boxing Day, we’ll probably have 2,500 to 3,000 fans going over there.

“Then we have got Hull at home – they are one of the favourites to win this division.

“Things will be as normal as possible for us over Christmas, with the usual training sessions and recovery days.

“We won’t be coming in on Christmas Day though, I’ve taken that decision.

“If you ask all managers up and down the country, some will have their players in, some won’t – there is no right or wrong way. We trained Tuesday and yesterday, and we will train again today.

“The day before a game we don’t normally do too much work, so we are letting them 
be at home with their 
families.

“They know what they are allowed and not allowed to eat and drink.

“Hopefully they can put in a good performance against Huddersfield and bring home the three points.”

Grayson will have Jordan Pickford available after the keeper’s red card at Leeds was overturned on appeal.

Chris Kirkland is also over the illness which forced him to miss the Leeds game.

There are fitness concerns over Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne, the midfield pair both having slight hamstring strains.

Either of them missing out could open the door to Neil Kilkenny, who impressed as a second-half sub at Leeds.

Said Grayson: “We will assess them both today to see where they are up to.

“Alan coming off at Leeds was more of a precaution, while we decided not to risk DJ in that game.

“If it had been the last game of the season or if we didn’t have a busy run of games coming up, we might have risked playing DJ.

“Paul Gallagher has been playing with a bit of a groin problem for the last few games – we’ve been nursing him through.

“Injuries like that are part and parcel of football at this of the season.”