PNE boss happy with progress

Simon Grayson says North End are up to the challenge
Simon Grayson says North End are up to the challenge
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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson believes his Preston players are starting to come to terms with the Championship.

The Lilywhites have had a challenging start to life back in the second tier of English football after winning promotion from League One last season.

In their opening 10 games, North End picked up just one win and were beaten on five occasions, but the last eight games have seen Grayson’s men become difficult to beat.

They have lost just once in that period – to derby rivals Blackburn Rovers – and kept six successive clean sheets, which equalled a club record.

On Saturday, they were just a few minutes away from recording their fourth league victory of the season at Fulham.

Joe Garner’s early header handed North End the lead and it needed a brilliant 
free-kick from Ross McCormack to level matters deep into the second half.

“I think we are adapting to the Championship and getting a bit more comfortable,” Grayson said.

“When you look through the team, there aren’t many of them who have played regular Championship football in the past.

“Some of our better players this season haven’t played many games in there. Joe Garner in his career has played a lot of football and scored a lot of goals, but not that many Championship games.

“Paul Gallagher is probably the one with the most appearances.

“They are learning every day in training, learning after every game.

“What we have got is an honest group who work very hard for each other and try and do the best they can.”

North End are on the road once more this weekend, although they do not have far to travel for the derby clash against Burnley at Turf Moor.

The Clarets are going well currently as they bid to make a quick return to the Premier League after being relegated last season.

They are currently nine games unbeaten and are nicely positioned in fifth spot in the table – four points off leaders Brighton.

However, Grayson believes his players are more than capable of picking up the three points.

“Big games are coming thick and fast and we have seen the players rise to the challenge,” Grayson said.

“We went to QPR a few weeks ago and got a good result there, and we got a good result at Brighton.

“I think the players are playing better in some of the bigger games.

“It won’t be easy but there will be a good atmosphere and hopefully we can get three points.”

Meanwhile, North End are still waiting to hear the extent of Stevie May’s knee injury suffered at the weekend against Fulham.

The striker is set to undergo a scan but club officials were waiting for swelling around the affected area to lessen.