Wright is part of PNE clean machine

Bailey Wright has been at the heart of Preston's defence which has kept five clean sheets
Bailey Wright has been at the heart of Preston's defence which has kept five clean sheets
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Bailey Wright is aiming for Preston’s defence to stay at its meanest best in their visit to Queens Park Rangers.

Wright has been at the heart of a back line which has kept five clean sheets on the bounce.

One more at Loftus Road would see them go unbeaten between the October and November international breaks.

North End have the sixth best defence in the Championship – only Hull, Middlesbrough, Derby, Brighton and Cardiff have conceded less goals.

They can boast the highest number of clean sheets in the division, Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest being the eighth time in which they have shut-out the opposition.

For the last four games, Wright has been in the middle of a back three with Calum Woods and Greg Cunningham.

With Woods and Cunningham having moved inside from their more natural full-back roles, a lot of responsibilty has fallen on the shoulders of Wright.

It might have resembled a makeshift defence when it got its first airing at Charlton last month but there has been no arguing with its pedigree since then.

Wright said: “We have played a three-man defence quite a lot but it is only quite recently that it started being Calum, Greg and myself.

“In terms of a game, it was a new thing seeing us three next to each other at the back.

“Calum and Greg are full-backs usually but they have shown they can play at centre-back very well.

“Remember, we are with each other every day and train together all the time.

“We know each other’s game well and know what we can and cannot do.

“The run of clean sheets is down to what we do as a team, it is a collective achievement.

“As a defender though, you do have a bit more pride in getting a clean sheet because that is your main job.

“Five clean sheets is great for us but will only be worth something in the long run if we keep more of them coming.

“Hopefully there will be more to come and it would be nice to top off the good run with another one going into the international break.

“Getting our first home win in the league during the week was a big relief and we will take the confidence from that into the QPR game.”

Wright has been the only fully fit natural centre-half available to Simon Grayson in recent weeks.

Tom Clarke (shoulder) and Paddy McCarthy (knee) have been sidelined.

Paul Huntington has been on the bench for the last four games, North End easing him back into action after a hamstring injury.

“Football is a strange game sometimes – you get injuries and suddenly things don’t look so good,” said Wright.

“But you pull together, deal with the injuries and get on with things.

“Tom and Hunts have been a big miss for us because they are good players and strong characters around the place.

“We have changed the defence, dug deep and it has worked for us in recent weeks.”

It will be a managerless, or rather a head coach-less, QPR side who North End meet this weekend.

Neil Warnock will be stalking the technical area in a caretaker capacity, Chris Ramsey having been sacked on Wednesday night.

Wright believes the change in head coach brings with it a challenge for Preston in their preparation to the game.

It could be that Warnock has different ideas, both tactically and in personnel, to those of Ramsey.

“Any team who change their manager can be difficult to play against,” said Wright.

“We will do our research on them and take our game-plan down there.

“Some players are disappointed when they lose their manager but sometimes a change can lift the place – it works differently at different clubs.

“QPR are a big club with plenty of experienced players in their squad, many of them have played in the Premier League.

“However, we go there on a good run ourselves and are playing with plenty of confidence.

“They might play a slightly different way to how we expect them to, because of the change.

“In football, you have to adapt to change, teams do mix things up from time to time with both the players they pick and the tactics they use.

“The main thing is that we concentrate on our own game.”

After facing QPR, Wright will board a flight back home to Australia in order to join up with the Socceroos for two World Cup qualifiers.

The 23-year-old has started Australia’s last three games and is steadily establishing himself on the international scene.

Said Wright: “I’m booked on a flight straight after the game and I’m looking forward to meeting up with the Australia boys again.

“There is a lot of travelling involved and two World Cup qualifying games, so it will be a busy couple of weeks for me before I’m back here.

“We play Kyrgyzstan in Canberra and then travel to Bangladesh.

“They are two tough games but hopefully we can get two wins and push ourselves closer to the next stage of qualifying.”