PNE’s huge part to play in who goes down

Forest's Jamie Ward scores Northern Ireland's first goal of the World Cup qualifying match against Norway
Forest's Jamie Ward scores Northern Ireland's first goal of the World Cup qualifying match against Norway
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While Preston’s focus in on a push for the play-offs, they will also have a say on how things shape up at the other end of the Championship.

Nottingham Forest and Bristol City – the visitors to Deepdale on Saturday and Tuesday – go into the weekend 20th and 19th respectively.

Both have 41 points, one better off than Blackburn, who occupy 22nd place.

Squashed in between are Burton, also on 41 points, with the battle to avoid the drop to League One a fierce one.

Forest have recently turned to Mark Warburton in an attempt to guide them away from danger.

The former Rangers and Brentford boss took office just before the international break, his first game in charge ending in a 2-2 draw with local rivals Derby County.

It was not much of a shock to see him take charge, Frank McParland having arrived as director of football a few weeks before.

McParland had worked in a similar role with Warbuton at Rangers.

The initial belief was that Warburton would take charge in the summer but Forest moved for him earlier.

It was a former Preston player who had been holding the fort before Warburton’s appointment.

Gary Brazil scored 58 league goals in a four-year stay with PNE and was a key figure in the 1986/87 Fourth Division promotion winning side.

Signed for £25,000 from Sheffield United in 1985, he arrived during the re-election season. Brazil left Deepdale in 1989 to join Newcastle in a £200,000 swap deal with Ian Bogie.

The 54-year-old had been in charge of the Forest first team with Jack Lester since the January sacking of Philippe Montanier.

Warburton’s appointment has seen Brazil and Lester go back to their previous posts with Forest’s academy.

Forest are set to welcome Jamie Ward back into the fold for the visit to North End, the striker having been banned for two games for 10 bookings.

Ward, who spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Burton, scored for Northern Ireland in their 2-0 win over Norway last Sunday.

He is confident Forest can get themselves out of trouble as long as they keep their focus solely on themselves.

Said Ward: “I am not the sort of person to analyse what others are doing.

“What I believe is that we can control what happens in our games and nothing else.

“I don’t worry about other games, I just focus on making sure we perform.

“If we do that then we will be fine.

“Things could be better for us but we can only control what we do as players and we have not always done that this season.

“We are here to make 
people happy and it has been a tough year.”

Forest’s draw with Derby a fortnight ago was preceded by defeats to Brentford and Burton.

Before that, they had won 3-0 against Brighton, so their recent results have been a real mixed bag.