Don’t fear Deepdale – PNE boss

Will Hayhurst
Will Hayhurst
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Preston North End have been urged by Graham Westley to thrive at Deepdale, rather than fear playing there.

They host Coventry City tomorrow (3pm) looking to end a run of nine home games without a win in the league which stretches back nearly four months.

Familiarity with the stadium will not be an issue, the squad having trained there a number of times during the recent cold weather.

Westley said: “Let’s face facts, we haven’t been performing as well at home as we have been away.

“There are a number of reasons for that and it’s up to us to progress from where we have been and start making this our home.

“It has been a real bonus training here for the last couple of weeks.

“Players who haven’t had a lot of Deepdale in their time at Preston have now experienced it a lot more.

“The home form has been a problem for some time, and Deepdale is a place where you need strong characters.

“Our fans expect a lot and demand a lot, which is something I totally understand.

“We can either thrive on that pressure or let the pressure get to us.

“There have been times where we’ve let the game get away from us, rather than us get on top of it.

“We have to make sure we relish the home environment and don’t fear it.

“When the going was good earlier in the season we wanted to get on the ball and play. But when the going hasn’t been so good, we haven’t been quite as brave.

“Showing confidence and courage is important – provided we do that, we have a lot of talent out there.

“During this run the fans have been brilliant.

“People have talked about a negative atmosphere at times and being annihilated when walking off as the home manager when you have lost a game. I’ve been asked how that feels, and my answer is that I would hate to be applauded for losing a game.

“I would hate to be at a club where losing is tolerated in any shape or form.

“I’m not a person who tolerates losing, I don’t feel any better than the people who get the needle with me.

“I totally get where they are coming from – I like the atmosphere because it doesn’t tolerate defeat and mediocrity.

“As I come off the pitch I listen to what the fans say and think, ‘Fair play to you’.

“We realise the fans are as much behind us when we are winning and playing well, as they are nailing us when we’re not winning.

“Deepdale is a fabulous arena to play football in when the fans are behind us, and it’s up to us to make sure that happens.”

After having to contend with a busy treatment room last week, Westley reported that the numbers for yesterday’s training session were a lot more healthy.

The squad will still have a youthful look for tomorrow’s game, with Will Hayhurst and youth team defender Ben Davies in the frame.

Hayhurst impressed in a cameo appearance as a substitute in the defeat to Walsall, and Davies would have featured at Yeovil had the weather not intervened.

Said Westley: “Last weekend we were down to 14 or 15 players.

“Yesterday we had 21 outfield players training, including one or two trialists who we are having a look at.

“With this being our third game against Coventry in a short space of time, we know plenty about each other.

“I thought we played pretty well on the whole in the two games, and you might argue that we didn’t quite get what we deserved.”