PNE need to hit top gear

Simon Grayson

Simon Grayson

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Simon Grayson thinks that his Preston North End side hitting ‘fifth gear’ will be crucial in their bid to get automatic promotion.

The Lilywhites boss has used leaders Wolves’ winning run as an example of the sort of form which will be needed to get into the top two.

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson

Wolves have won nine games on the bounce, the first of those being against North End at Molineux in January.

A consistent run of victories is Grayson’s goal, with him far from giving up on clinching a top-two finish.

“We are trying to get into top gear and hopefully we can do that,” said Grayson.

“When you get into fifth gear, you are like Wolves I would say.

“They are flying at the moment with the goals they are scoring and the games they’re winning.

“We are somewhere between fourth and fifth gear and I would like us to get up to fifth gear and really put the pressure on the teams in and around us.

“If you were to ask Kenny Jackett at Wolves about their form and position, he would be playing it down because there are so many games to be played yet.

“They are not home and hosed but you have got to say that they are strong favourites to win the division as everyone expected them to do at the start of the season.

“Wolves did well in the transfer market in the January window and have gone from strength to strength.

“But saying that, they are still catchable by the teams in the places just below them.”

Grayson will be spending the weekend on the Springfields training pitch with his squad in readiness for the visit of FA Cup semi-finalists Sheffield United to Deepdale on Monday night (7.45pm).

It is a game where North End will put their 11-game unbeaten run to the test against a Blades side who have won their last 10 league and FA Cup matches.

Three points would really keep them up there in the automatic promotion mix.

Grayson said: “The game is under the floodlights and on Sky Sports, and hopefully we can do League One credit and this club credit.

“When we have been shown live on television this season we have produced some good performances.

“Our aim is to win as many matches as possible and see where that takes us.

“It is out of our hands as such for the top two but there is still plenty which could happen over the next few weeks.

“There will be twists and turns between now and the end of the season. Sides in and around us are playing each other so points will be dropped.

“We might drop a few more points, but hopefully not as many as some of the other teams up there with us.

“If it is not the top two, then we go into the play-offs and look forward to that instead.”

Grayson reported no fresh injuries from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw, and he will have a full strength squad to select from on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, North End midfielder Joel Byrom has joined Oldham Athletic on loan for the rest of the season.

First-team chances at PNE have been few and far between in recent months for the 27-year-old.

North End will have a 24-hour recall on Byrom once he has been at Oldham for 28 days.

He has played 41 times for Preston since joining on a Bosman from Stevenage in July 2012.

Byrom is set to make his Oldham debut against Crewe today.