Nicky Wroe believes a happy Christmas can spark Preston North End back into life.
NICKY Wroe believes a happy Christmas can spark Preston back into life.
Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth is the first of six games in 18 days for PNE over Christmas and New Year.
When they emerge from that spell, midfielder Wroe hopes North End’s league position looks healthier than their current 14th place.
The Pompey clash is followed by next Tuesday’s rearranged Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Bury.
Before Christmas they are on the road again, playing Coventry at the Ricoh Arena.
Back-to-back home games follow against Bury on Boxing Day and Doncaster three days later, before a visit to Hartlepool heralds the arrival of 2013.
“This is the time of year when you see big movement in the league table,” Wroe told the Evening Post. “We were hovering around the top half for quite a while and have slipped down a bit recently.
“Putting a few results together when the games are coming think and fast would lift us back towards the play-off places.
“Over Christmas you see some teams moving up and other falling away – it can really shape what you are doing.
“We want to be heading into January in a good position so we can strike on and push even higher.”
Wroe admits that North End fell short in last Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Crewe.
He hopes they can make amends for that 270 miles away at Fratton Park this weekend.
Said Wroe: “We let ourselves down against Crewe. It has been an important few days for us, getting our focus back and working really hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We will be doubling our efforts on Saturday to make sure we come back with a result.
“Our away form has been better than at home of late.
“Maybe teams come to Deepdale, see a big infrastructure and a lot of fans, and raise their game a little bit.
“We are finding it hard to break teams down at home, but playing away has suited us more.
“Teams come at us more when they’re the home side and we’ve been able to counter-attack them to good effect.
“We’ll do all we can to get three points at Portsmouth.
“Without doubt we need to be higher in the table.
“Portsmouth’s financial problems have been well documented but that won’t matter when we get on the pitch.”
Wroe heads to the south coast as PNE’s leading scorer with eight goals in all competitions.
In the coming games he wants to add to that tally, feeling he should probably be in double figures already.
“I’m always looking for more goals,” said Wroe.
“I’ve been leading scorer here for a few weeks and I’m a bit disappointed not to have scored a few more.
“Last Saturday I didn’t play very well but, barring that, I’ve been reasonably pleased with my form and there is more to come.”
North End’s build-up to the Portsmouth clash included a bounce game behind closed doors against Stoke City on Tuesday.
Graham Westley gave a run-out to those in his squad who have not been regular starters recently.
The Potters team included striker Michael Owen, who played for 70 minutes.
David Amoo’s first-half goal settled the Britannia Stadium contest in North End’s favour.
With Westley hinting at a reshuffle of his side at Pompey following the league defeats to Leyton Orient and Crewe, it was a good opportunity for some to press their claims for a start.
Meanwhile, North End have reduced the cost of coach travel to Portsmouth to £15.
Coaches leave Preston and Leyland at 8am.