PNE pair in frame for monthly awards

Jermaine Beckford has been shortlisted for the player of the month award
Jermaine Beckford has been shortlisted for the player of the month award
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Jermaine Beckford and Simon Grayson have both been nominated for awards in the build-up to Preston North End’s crunch clash at Colchester this weekend.

Beckford is on the shortlist for League One player of the month after an impressive time in front of goal in April.

The Lilywhites being seven games unbeaten this month has seen Grayson nominated for manager of the month.

It is an award he has won twice this season, named the division’s top boss in October and February.

Grayson is up against Karl Robinson (MK Dons), Paul Cook (Chesterfield) and Steve Cotterill (Bristol City) for the managerial award.

Five goals from Beckford this month played a key role in keeping North End in second place in the table.

The striker, on loan from Bolton, scored the winner against Rochdale on Good Friday.

He found the net in the draws with Bristol City and Gillingham, then struck twice in last week’s 3-1 away win at Notts County.

In total, Beckford has scored 12 goals in a Preston shirt and is third-highest scorer behind Joe Garner (26) and Paul Gallagher (13).

His competition for the player of the month award comes in the shape of James O’Connor (Walsall), Will Grigg (MK Dons) and Ben Gladwin (Swindon).

Beckford and Grayson will find out on Friday whether they have won the awards.

However, the only thing which the pair have their eyes on this weekend is the Colchester game.

A tense Sunday afternoon awaits at the Weston Homes Community Stadium with both teams needing the three points for different reasons.

Victory for North End would see them clinch automatic promotion.

At the opposite end of the table, The U’s need a win to give them a chance of avoiding relegation.

With no injuries reported from last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Swindon, Grayson’s team selection is unlikely to differ much this weekend.

The PNE boss was pleased with the contribution of Chris Humphrey in that victory, the winger having returned to the starting XI after three matches on the bench.

Grayson said: “You know what you are going to get from Chris – he works very hard for the team.

“I thought Chris was very productive going forward, enjoying himself and putting some good crosses into the penalty box.

“He was unfortunate not to get himself a goal as well.

“There were some very good individual performances within the framework of a strong team display.

“We need the same thing on Sunday as we look for the win which would get us promotion.

“This is an exciting time for everyone at the club and it is in our own hands.

“We will concentrate on what we do – we cannot affect results elsewhere.”