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PNE’s Westley: I can’t wait

Battle at the back: Shane Cansdell-Sherriff is fighting it out with PNEs defenders

Battle at the back: Shane Cansdell-Sherriff is fighting it out with PNEs defenders

Graham Westley has described Preston North End’s clash with Sheffield United tomorrow as ‘mouth-watering’.

The Blades, beaten finalists in last season’s play-offs, come to Deepdale unbeaten in league action.

With North End’s best form this term having come on home turf, Westley predicts an entertaining contest.

The PNE boss said: “It is mouth-watering from our point of view. We’ve had a tough start to the season as we knew we would.

“Twelve games in we have played some great stuff and, at times, table-topping stuff.

“But we have also played some relegation-standard stuff.

“The positive thing from my point of view is that the level we have shown when we’re at our best has definitely been top-end-of-the-table football.

“If we can build on that and eradicate the inconsistency, there’s a great opportunity for us to win honours this season.

“Last weekend when we weren’t at our best, we still eked out a draw against MK Dons who have consistently been a top-six side.

“We have a level which, when not at our best, can still get those type of results.

“Coming here are a very decent Sheffield United side.

“They have an experienced campaigner in Danny Wilson managing them.

“We will have to play very well if we are to beat them.”

He ran the rule over the Blades in their 4-1 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Notts County on Wednesday night.

Their unbeaten start to the season following the play-off final defeat isn’t lost on him.

Said Westley: “Their start to the season has been terrific.

“Twelve games unbeaten coming off a play-off final defeat is credit to the manager.

“I lost a play-off final at Stevenage and they started the next season horribly because there was a hangover feeling.

“We have managed the same number as league wins as them, but they’ve stayed unbeaten.”

Westley will monitor the health of his squad before deciding on tomorrow’s team, a couple of the players having been ill in the last few days.

One of the big selection issues could be who plays at the back.

Chris Robertson gave a good account of himself as a first-half substitute against MK Dons.

Shane Cansdell-Sherriff will also be pushing for a return to the squad after suspension and injury.

Westley combined his pre-match media duties yesterday with a visit to Queen’s Drive Primary School in Fulwood.

The visit was to promote North End’s support for the anti-racism Kick it Out campaign.

Tomorrow’s clash is PNE’s focus game in the ‘One Game, One Community’ initiative run by Kick it Out.

Westley said: “Football gives a massive opportunity for us to set an example and show people the way forward.

“There is always a lot of focus on negative situations.

“What people don’t see are very positive efforts like this where the focus is on many hundreds and thousands of people living and working together in the right way.”

 

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