PNE fans keeping it real says boss

Ben Pearson will be back in the PNE squad this weekend after suspension

Ben Pearson will be back in the PNE squad this weekend after suspension

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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson does not believe his team’s recent good run has raised expectation levels among the club’s supporters.

PNE are in joint-second spot in the Championship form table, having picked up 17 points from their last eight games.

That feat can only be bettered by fourth-placed Burnley, while tomorrow’s visitors to Deepdale Sheffield Wednesday have an identical record.

The terrific run over the past couple of months looks to have safeguarded North End’s future in the second tier of English football for another year at least.

They have opened up a gap of 14 points between themselves and the relegation zone, although there is still work to do with 15 games to go to ensure they are mathematically secure.

Attention among PNE fans now seems to have switched to the top end of the table, rather than the bottom.

Grayson’s men have moved into 11th spot in the table – nine points behind Derby County, who occupy the final play-off position.

Three points this weekend will see Preston make more ground up on the teams near the top as Wednesday are in fifth spot – 11 points ahead of PNE.

Grayson – who celebrated three years at the Deepdale helm yesterday – reckons the vast majority of supporters are remaining realistic with regards to the possibility of the team forcing its way into play-off contention.

“I don’t think expectation levels have been raised,” said Grayson.

“I think the fans are realistic enough to know what we are doing. We are doing well at the moment.

“Are we above where we should be? Probably.

“But ultimately let’s just see where this good run takes us.

“Who knows where we will finish this season?

“It’s about making sure that every time the players put on that shirt, they give everything that is required for this football club.

“If you do that most of the time, you have got a great chance of getting three points.”

Grayson is expected to welcome back Ben Pearson to his squad for the visit of Carlos Carvalhal’s men.

The young midfielder has missed the previous two wins over Huddersfield and Wolves respectively after serving a suspension for picking up 10 bookings.

Full-back Marnick Vermijl – on loan from Wednesday – will not figure against his parent club, but talisman Paul Gallagher is expected to soldier on for another game despite needing a hernia operation.

That only leaves long-term absentees Jermaine Beckford, Liam Grimshaw and Stevie May on the treatment table with their respective knee injuries.

May is set to undergo an operation next week and Beckford has begun to do some running work.