Winter wonderland for PNE boss

Paul Gallagher limps off with PNE physio Matt Jackson at Peterborough
Paul Gallagher limps off with PNE physio Matt Jackson at Peterborough
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson would not want to see English football close down for a winter break and is a big fan of the busy Christmas schedule.

At the top level of the game there is some support for a shut-down in order to keep players fresher for later in the campaign.

Grayson doubts such a break will come into play in England and does not see the need.

North End play twice in 48 hours over Christmas, hosting Barnsley at Deepdale on Boxing Day, before making the short trip to Crewe on Sunday.

There is no New Year’s Day fixture list in the Football League, so their first game of 2015 will be the FA Cup clash with Norwich on January 3.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “I’m not for a winter break, if I’m being honest.

“I don’t know how you can justify why a break is needed.

“People talk about having a break first and foremost to rejuvenate the players and allow them to recharge their batteries.

“But others point to games being called off because of the weather as another reason.

“I don’t think we can use the weather as a guide in this country.

“It can very mild at this time of year, then it can snow in March or April.

“Playing at Christmas is part of the history and tradition in this country.

“As a player I used to love playing on Boxing Day and again a couple of days later.

“The supporters love it too – crowds are generally bigger for the Christmas games and it gets them out of the house and away from squabbling families.”

Grayson regarded the 1-0 win over Peterborough at the weekend as part of the festive programme.

And he is looking for the squad to carry that good result into the two games later this week.

The win over Peterborough stretched their unbeaten run to seven games – a decent response to losing three league matches on the spin.

Victory at London Road saw PNE stay in fourth place but significantly close the gap on the automatic promotion slots.

Bristol City’s lead at the top is down to a single point, with MK Dons, Swindon and North End all on 41 points.

Said Grayson: “It is tight at the top and a decent battle is developing up there.

“We came into the dressing room at Peterborough after a good win and saw that results had in general gone for us.

“There are still many games to be played and we cannot affect what other teams do.

“The table will change over the coming weeks and months, I’m sure of that.

“We will try to win as many games as we can to get into the top two and stay there.”

North End’s only fresh worry heading into Christmas is Paul Gallagher.

He got a kick on the ankle at Peterborough and was substituted in the 61st minute.

Grayson believes that time is Gallagher’s side when it comes to his chances of facing Barnsley.

“Gally came off on Saturday with a knock on the ankle so we’ll have a look at him,” said Grayson.

“We don’t play until Friday so he has got a few days to have some treatment and get over it. Hopefully Gally will be available and be part of a strong squad for these games.”