PNE raring to go again

Josh Heaton at Springfields on Friday

Josh Heaton at Springfields on Friday

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PRESTON’S preparations for the new Championship season got under way this week when the squad reported back for pre-season training on Thursday.

Manager Simon Grayson, his right-hand man Glynn Snodin and new first-team coach Steve Thompson put the players through their paces at the club’s Springfields training ground.

Alan Browne and Tom Clarke compete

Alan Browne and Tom Clarke compete

Over the next five weeks, the players will be working hard in training and during pre-season games so that they reach peak condition in time for the opening game of the campaign against Middlesbrough on Sunday, August 9, at Deepdale.

Apart from Bailey Wright and Chris Humphrey, who are yet to return due to international commitments with Australia and Jamaica respectively, there was a familiar look to the PNE squad.

Skipper Tom Clarke, player of the year Paul Huntington and leading goalscorer Joe Garner were all in attendance, while last season’s loan stars Jermaine Beckford and Paul Gallagher were getting down to work after clinching permanent deals over the summer.

North End have yet to make any genuine new signings so far over the summer, although there was one new face among the squad.

Preston-born central defender Josh Heaton signed his first professional contract this week after graduating through the ranks at Deepdale. Formerly known as Sampson, Heaton is the only member of the 2014/15 second year scholars to be offered terms by the club.

He said: “I was very nervous about coming in on Thursday for the first day of training but all the lads have been really sound and have welcomed me.

“Being the only one to come through from my age group, I suppose I was a little bit in my shell on the first day, but I have started to come out of myself a bit. It helps when you get on the pitch, because you have to talk.”