Dave Seddon's PNE Press View

A decent portion of Simon Grayson's Thursday lunchtime press conference was spent discussing his Preston North End strike force.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 13th August 2016, 9:00 am
Jordan Hugill scoring in 
pre-season, where he impressed
Jordan Hugill scoring in pre-season, where he impressed

With a decent number of bodies to choose from up top, it seems that he is prepared to swap and change when he thinks the time is right.

In the two games to date, we have seen four different attack pairings.

To start with against Reading, it was the tried and tested Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner combo.

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Later on, Jordan Hugill was to link up with Beckford as Garner gave way.

For the Hartlepool game, Garner and Eoin Doyle started, with Doyle and Hugill finishing it.

Doyle also finished from a Chris Humphrey cross to net North End’s first goal of the campaign.

There is still Simon Makienok to come into the equation, so too Stevie May further down the line.

The attention, and indeed, an element of pressure is on Preston’s strikers this term.

Last season’s shortage of goals from them has been well documented.

There were frowns at the 1-0 defeat at Reading, another blank on the scoresheet.

In mitigation, Garner and Beckford were left incredibly isolated by the fact their team-mates dropped so deep.

It left them feeding on scraps and the occasional ball up the channel in the first half.

The one decent delivery into the box, Beckford tucked away only for Garner to be penalised for controlling with his arm in the build-up.

Garner had the ball in the net against Hartlepool, the most marginal of offside decisions going against him.

I must admit that the Doyle and Hugill partmership showed some promise in midweek.

Granted, the chances started to come as the game got stretched, but all the same they seemed to have a decent enough understanding.

It will be interesting to see who Grayson goes with against Fulham.

He has used formations to date in which two strikers play, so I’m presuming it will be a pair again.

Will Beckford and Garner get another run, as they did on the opening day?

It was a partnership which delivered so well over the last three months of the promotion season, before Beckford’s unfortunate knee injury meant it had to be parked for the majority of last term.

The fact PNE don’t want to over-burden that repaired knee at this early stage of the campaign was primarily why Beckford was not used in the Hartlepool game.

Does Doyle’s winning goal in the week mean he gets a start?

He did not pull up any trees when on loan last season, but I must admit that the Irishman caught my eye in pre-season.

Of course friendlies are not always the most accurate environment in which to make a judgement.

But he looked sharp and helped himself to a couple of goals when played down the middle, rather out wide or in a deeper link role.

Hugill has plenty of support when it comes to the debate of who should start.

At some stage he will hope to get a run of starts after in the main being used as an impact player from the bench.

Could Grayson play three of them in a 4-3-3?

It was a system used many times last season, although he tended to have a winger as one of the front trio.

When Makienok is fully fit after a thigh strain –and that might not be this weekend – he will provide an interesting and different option.

There are not too many strikers who measure 6ft 7in and his height could be key to bringing others into the play.

Reflecting on the first week of the season, there has been plenty of incident and discussion.

Liam Grimshaw’s display at wing-back at Reading got plenty of criticism.

Don’t hang the lad out to dry though, it was his competitive debut for PNE in a role he had little experience of.

I thought he did okay in the Hartlepool game at right-back, a position he’s played before.

When the chance comes, I would like to see Grimshaw in midfield where he’s spent much of his career.

From a team point of view, the Hartlepool performance was a lot better than Reading, without pulling up any trees.

Victory meant a place in the hat for the second-round draw on Wednesday night – and what a farce that was.

What value do the Football League – sorry the EFL – put on their competition when they allow Sky Sports to ride roughshod over the timing of the draw and finally screen it after 10.30pm?