PNE boss wants players to step up

Aiden McGeady had a loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday

Aiden McGeady had a loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday

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Preston manager Simon Grayson has challenged the Lilywhites midfield to fill the creativity void left by Paul Gallagher’s injury.

Gallagher limped out of the stalemate with Wolves 13 days ago and missed last week’s 1-1 draw against Burton.

The calf injury is set to rule him out of tomorrow’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday, hence Grayson looking for someone to take up the mantle in terms of making North End tick.

Grayson said: “Gally makes things happen, he has good delivery from set-pieces, sees a pass and keeps things ticking along.

“Injuries are part and parcel of football, every club deals with them and others have to step up to produce the level of performance which Gally consistently does.

“Other players have to accept responsibility and take over his role slightly, even if they aren’t a like-for-like replacement.

“People like Ben Pearson, who can handle the ball well and has a good range of passing, can step up.

“Whoever we have in there is capable of doing a job.

“We set off in the summer with a large contingent of midfielders and have been a bit unlucky that, over the last few weeks, we have been without some of them.

“Alan Browne was out suspended, John Welsh is still injured and now Gally.

“We are waiting to see how his injury settles down.

“It is not long term, it might be that this time next week we are seeing if he is available for the Blackburn game – or it could be a little bit longer.”

Better news on the fitness front is set to see Jermaine Beckford back in the frame at Hillsborough.

The striker has missed the last two games with a thigh strain suffered in training during the international break.

Said Grayson: “Jermaine has had a clear week’s training and I expect him to be back in and around the squad.

“It will be nice to have another body available, a player of his quality.”

Four ex-Owls players are on PNE’s books, three of whom will be in the squad – Aiden McGeady, Marnick Vermijl and Tommy Spurr.

The fourth, Stevie May, is not yet ready for first-team action as he builds up his sharpness after knee surgery.

Grayson, who himself spent time on loan with Wednesday as a player, said: “It’s nice for players to face their former club but ultimately they are looking to prove things to our team and our supporters.

“The lads concerned have gone to Sheffield Wednesday and left in different circumstances.

“Marnick went there and didn’t play a lot, Geads had a disappointing time on loan but we have seen much better from him here.

“Tommy Spurr probably left on good terms, while they took Stevie May in and didn’t play him too much.

“All I’m focused on is us trying to get a good result there tomorrow.

“Wednesday are a big club with a big expectancy level and we will be underdogs.

“Let’s hope we can upset the apple cart over there.”