Cup tie timely for PNE
Simon Grayson has asked the Preston players for a swift reaction to the opening-day defeat at Reading in tonight's League Cup clash against Hartlepool at Deepdale.
PNE were well below par at the weekend, with the Royals better in all departments.
Being out-worked during the first half annoyed Grayson in particular, last season’s 11th-place finish built very much on a high work rate.
The visit of League Two side Hartlepool is the first of three home games in a week, with Fulham and Derby to come.
So a return this evening to winning ways going into the Championship matches, would be a timely tonic.
North End boss Grayson said: “We have to make sure we do a lot of things better than we did on Saturday.
“We were too easy to play against – a key part of our game last season was being hard to beat, disciplined and not letting the opposition dictate the game.
“Reading dictated too easily and if we don’t do things right against Hartlepool, they will dictate the game too.
“To be fair, we have always had a good reaction from the players here to a defeat.
“Hopefully that is the case tonight because we want our first win as soon as possible and we want to make progress in this competition.”
Grayson took some comfort from a better second-half display, even though PNE could not find an equaliser.
“You can look at a few reasons as to why we didn’t play well,” he said.
“Reading were comfortable on the ball, had good movement, while at times it looked like we didn’t have a run in us.
“That was not because we weren’t fit – the fitness is very good – but sometimes that happens.
“In the second half we had more energy about us and we stopped them playing.”
Grayson will resist making too many changes tonight, although is likely to have one or two different names on the team sheet.
Tom Clarke will not play after injuring his hamstring at the weekend.
Eoin Doyle, Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson are among those to be pressing their claims for a start after being on the bench at Reading.
Said Grayson: “One or two players were really unfortunate not to make the XI on Saturday.
“I’m never one to make wholesale changes just because it is a cup game.
“Players are still finding their feet in competitive football after the friendlies, which are completely different.
“We might make a couple of changes but not wholesale.
“Those players who can count themselves unlucky not to have started at the weekend, will come into consideration.”
In terms of efforts to strengthen the right-hand side of the defence, Grayson said: “We have spoken to a couple of clubs about signing players on a permanent basis and paying money for them.
“If that doesn’t come off, we have the loan market.”