Cod Army’s Deepdale links

Tyler Forbes

Tyler Forbes

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When you think of the links between Preston and Sunday’s opponents Fleetwood, the one which immediately springs to mind is Graham Alexander.

The 16th anniversary of him joining PNE – for a bargain £50,000 fee from Luton – fell during the week.

Grezza played 421 games for the Lilywhites in two spells, also serving at Deepdale as caretaker-manager and youth-team coach.

It was from his job coaching the youngsters that the Cod Army lured him to the Fylde coast in December 2012 to begin his managerial career.

Ex-North Enders Chris Lucketti, Youl Mawene, David Lucas and Barry Nicholson are on his coaching staff.

On the pitch, when PNE pay a first competitive visit to Highbury Stadium, are likely to be four Preston-born players wearing Fleetwood colours.

Jamie Proctor, Nathan Pond, Tyler Forbes and Josh Morris all hail from the city.

Proctor and Forbes are Ingol boys, while Pond was brought up in Plungington.

Morris, top scorer with seven goals, is on loan from Blackburn. Pond has been with Fleetwood since 2003, rising up football’s pyramid with them.

His last-gasp equaliser in last week’s 2-2 draw at Bradford was the seventh different tier the centre-half had found the net in.

A former Preston schoolboys’ player, 
he had a trial with PNE as a 15-year-old but did not get taken on.

Via a spell playing for Springfields and training stints at Lancaster City and Kendal, Pond landed on the Fylde coast and has been there ever 
since.

Proctor and Forbes’ association with Town is far more recent. Alexander signed them last summer, having worked with both at Deepdale.

He was a team-mate of Proctor in his second spell with the club in the 2011/12 season and also briefly his caretaker-boss.

Forbes, 19, was a player who Grezza had under his wing during his time as Preston youth-team coach.

When the teenager was released at the end of his scholarship, Alexander signed him for Cod’s development squad which is run by former PNE midfielder Nicholson. In November, Forbes made his first-team debut in a 1-0 win at Yeovil, which came just a few days after the death of his mum.

He now has nine games under his belt, the latest of which came at Bradford when he created the first of Fleetwood’s goals for Proctor.

Forbes should, in all likelihood, get the nod to start against PNE in place of another former Deepdale player, Conor McLaughlin who is away on international duty with Northern Ireland.

At one stage there was the possibility that Pond might have missed the game to due to an international call.

Caribbean minnows Montserrat were keen to hand him a way into international football.

But that is on the back burner for now, with 30-year-old Pond focused on Fleetwood and holding down a regular place in their side.

Going into the weekend, Alexander’s men sit in 10th place, just three points off Peterborough who occupy the final play-off spot.

The draw at Bradford put them back on track after a 2-0 home defeat to Coventry.

Before that, they had won back to back games against Rochdale (1-0) and Sheffield United (2-1).