PNE strikers must box clever

Eoin Doyle could start Preston's home clash with Nottingham Forest
Eoin Doyle could start Preston's home clash with Nottingham Forest
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Simon Grayson wants his strikers to see far more of the inside of the box when Preston North End meet Nottingham Forest at Deepdale tonight.

Lilywhites boss Grayson felt that the front men spent too much time dropping deep in Saturday’s goalless draw with Bolton.

He says that was done with the right intentions, Joe Garner and Eoin Doyle – and later Jordan Hugill – keen to be involved in the link-up play.

But as PNE go in search of their first home league win of the season, Grayson wants a greater presence in the Forest penalty area.

The Garner/Doyle pairing could be given another go this evening with continuity in mind, the front line having seen a number of changes in recent weeks.

Grayson said: “Maybe we didn’t get enough players in the box at the right times at the weekend.

“The strikers worked hard but were probably spending too much time outside of the box.

“We have to be more clinical and clever at the top end of the pitch.

“What we want the strikers to do is let other players deal more with the link-up play so that they are in the right areas to be more effective in the game.

“It is about getting the right balance and if it clicks, we won’t be a million miles away.”

North End will be anxious to put their first home Championship win on the board when they face a Forest outfit who have gone seven matches without a victory.

The seven league games at Deepdale have yielded five draws and two defeats.

A similar run at the start of the 2005/06 campaign saw PNE have to wait until the start of November to record a home win.

They began with six draws and two defeats that season, then did not lose at Deepdale until the play-offs.

Going further back, in the 1987/88 season after promotion from the old Fourth Division, their first home win came at the seventh attempt.

Said Grayson: “We want to win our home games because that is where the majority of the supporters are.

“We are trying to get the balance right between being hard to beat and being clinical at the other end.

“There is a fine line and you look at some of the other results at the weekend. Bristol City probably wanted to be hard to beat and to attack, but found themselves 4-0 down at half-time.

“I am quite pleased with how we are developing – settling into this division is a building process.

“We can’t just come from where we have been and expect to be at the top end of the division, beating everyone.

“What we have to do is take it step by step, add the blocks as we are going along, try to improve on everything we do.”

Tom Clarke will be missing again tonight because of cartilage damage in his right shoulder, the skipper’s return likely to be against Blackburn after the international break.