PNE mind their own business

Calum Woods (above) may replace Marnick Vermijl in the PNE team
Calum Woods (above) may replace Marnick Vermijl in the PNE team
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Simon Grayson is keeping his focus on a strong finish to the season for Preston North End rather than becoming sidetracked in the battle for promotion at the top of the Championship.

The Lilywhites host Burnley at Deepdale tonight (7.45pm) with much riding on the local derby both in Lancashire and well beyond its borders.

Middlesbrough and Brighton will both be hoping for a PNE win as they look to pip the Clarets in the race for automatic promotion.

The message from Grayson to his North End players is ‘do it for yourselves’, with his main concern being to stay in the division’s top 10.

He is mindful that his former club Leeds have pulled to within a point of them after a three-game winning run.

In contrast, PNE head into the televised clash without a win in four matches.

Grayson said: “We have had a lot of good luck messages from people connected with Brighton and Middlesbrough.

“You expect that at this stage of the season when teams are battling for places.

“We have got the connection with Middlesbrough with Adam Reach being on loan here, while Jordan Hugill is a Middlesbrough fan.

“Forget all that, it is about what we do for ourselves.

“What we try and do tonight is not for the benefit of any other club.

“If that is the way it turns out, then so be it.

“We go out to try and win every game we play, no matter what the circumstances.

“As a team, we want to get back to winning ways.

“We have only picked up two points from a possible 12 in the last four games.

“Our performance have warranted a lot more and we are playing well enough.

“Let’s turn these good performances into a fantastic one with a win at the end of it.”

Grayson has fitness concerns over Anders Lindegaard and Marnick Vermijl.

Both came off during the 2-2 draw at Birmingham, keeper Lindegaard with a shoulder injury and Vermijl having got a bang on the foot.

Chris Kirkland stands by to replace Lindegaard, while Calum Woods is an option to replace Vermijl.

Woods himself has missed the last three games with a calf muscle strain. We’ll assess Anders and Marnick until close to kick-off and take things from there,” said Grayson.

“Anders has a problem with his shoulder and Marnick got a kick on the top of his foot.

“We have able deputies to come in, Chris is experienced and I would expect Calum to be back as well.”

A crowd around the 18,000 mark is expected, with Burnley having a 5,600-strong following.

Grayson is looking forward to the derby clash against a Clarets side he rates highly.

He said: “Burnley have experienced players right the way through.

“Andre Gray is an obvious threat and has got a good partnership with Sam Vokes.

“They are on a fantastic run, one which started soon after we beat them at Turf Moor.”