PNE find new leader

Bailey Wright's displays have been praised by PNE boss Simon Grayson

Bailey Wright's displays have been praised by PNE boss Simon Grayson

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Simon Grayson is pleased with the manner in which Bailey Wright has developed into a leader and organiser in the heart of Preston North End’s defence.

Wright is part of the back line which has kept five clean sheets in a row, the nine points collected in that time lifting PNE from the foot of the Championship table up to 16th.

The current defence has been somewhat thrown together because of injuries, with Calum Woods and Greg Cunningham – full-backs by trade – pressed into service in the middle either side of Wright.

“I think that Bailey is one of the players who has really come to the fore over the last few weeks,” North End boss Grayson told the Evening Post.

“That has been forced on him a little bit in terms of other defenders being injured.

“Bailey has been at this club quite a long time, he is an experienced player with a number of games under his belt and is an international too.

“When you have lost people to injury and when the captain is out, you want players to step up as a leader and organiser, make sure the others around him are working.

“On Tuesday night against Nottingham Forest, Bailey typified our performance at the back.

“He was very good in that game and on Saturday when we played Bolton.

“The two lads alongside him, Calum and Greg, did very well, as did the wing-backs.

“Against Forest we changed the formation going into the second half because I felt we were getting overrun in wide areas, so we went to a back four.

“These players are doing whatever they have to do in order to keep a clean sheet.

“It’s a fantastic achievement to keep five clean sheets on the trot.

“To do it at any level takes some doing but in this division with the players we have been up against, it is huge credit to the lads.”

During the run of clean sheets, PNE have been without two centre-backs in Tom Clarke and Paddy McCarthy.

Clarke hurt his shoulder in the first of the games against Cardiff, while McCarthy was injured on his debut at Sheffield Wednesday before the international break.

Paul Huntington has also been used sparingly as a substitute late in games on his return from hamstring trouble.

Grayson hopes that now his side have won at Deepdale in the league, it will lift some of the tension when they return home later in the month.

Saturday’s trip to Queens Park Rangers is followed by the third international break of the season, before action is resumed with the eagerly-awaited derby against Blackburn on November 21.

Said Grayson: “It is human nature that players get anxious, you get nervous tension coming through at times.

“Against Forest, we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we have done in other games but got the win. That is something to build from.”