PNE in it to win it

Stuart Beavon will return to the squad for tomorrow's game against Carlisle after illness
Stuart Beavon will return to the squad for tomorrow's game against Carlisle after illness
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Simon Grayson wants Preston North End to carry a winning mentality into the play-offs and leave behind their frustrating habit of drawing too many games.

The Lilywhites entertain Carlisle United tomorrow with their focus firmly fixed on a strong end to 
the regular campaign in order to be right for the 
end-of-season knockout.

Grayson’s side are assured of their place in the play-offs, and while an automatic slot is mathematically not yet beyond them, it would take a major swing of results for that to happen.

Had a few more of their 16 draws been turned into victories, a challenge for the top two would still be on.

Although rueful of some of the points which have got away from them, PNE boss Grayson’s focus is on the future rather than the past.

Grayson said: “We want to finish the season in a really positive manner, with five wins if possible.

“If we do that, it sets is up with some good momentum for the play-offs.

“People will be slightly frustrated with the fact we have drawn 16 games, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying in trying to turn those draws into victories.

“That is football for you, and this squad deserves credit for having the mind-set and determination not to get beaten.

“For me, it is not about ifs, buts and maybes any more – it is what we do in the future.

“We would have taken this position at the start of the season but I do believe that if we’d had the squad we do now at the start of the season, then we would be very close to the top two – a lot closer anyway.

“We’ve done really well this season, there is no getting away from the fact that it has been a successful season so far.

“It’s been a progression season and it hasn’t finished yet.”

Grayson will have Stuart Beavon back available after the striker missed last week’s draw at Bristol City because of a dose of flu. Scott Wiseman is nearing full fitness after a knee injury but he might be held back until the Easter matches.

Said Grayson: “Scott is going to be touch and go.

“His knee has shown a huge improvement, and if it isn’t this weekend then it will be next when he returns.

“It’ll be good to have Stuart available.

“It was a blow to himself, more than anybody, that he had to miss last week.

“He had worked extremely hard to get himself ready and since coming back into the team he has done very well.

“It was only one game which he missed and he comes back into consideration.”

Carlisle head down the M6 in need of points to climb out of relegation danger.

Grayson expects them to sit deep and the onus will be on his players to punch holes in the visitors’ 3-5-2 system.

“We will have to be patient and I’m sure that we will have a lot of the ball,” he said.

“We’ll have to be clever enough in possession and show some expertise to break them down, at the same time making sure that we don’t get done on the counter-attack.

“There have been games already when we weren’t good enough or patient enough to break teams down.

“But in the last few weeks we have got more clever.”