EXCLUSIVE: Lawro's thumbs up for PNE

Preston have caught Mark Lawrenson's eyePreston have caught Mark Lawrenson's eye
Preston have caught Mark Lawrenson's eye
Mark Lawrenson regards Preston North End as being a top-three Championship side in terms of '˜commitment, desire and organisation'.

The ex-PNE and Liverpool defender is full of admiration for the job being done at Deepdale by Simon Grayson.

Lawrenson has been a regular at North End games this season, one which they made a shaky start to but have impressed in over the last couple of months.

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They resume action against Wolves this weekend on the back of five wins, two draws and just one defeat in their last eight league matches.

Aiden McGeady, Jordan Hugill and Daniel Johnson have caught the eye of BBC pundit Lawro.

“Preston are my club, they have always been,” Lawrenson told the Evening Post.

“I go to different functions and people often mention Liverpool as my team.

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“While I love Liverpool and had such a good time there as a player, you can’t change your team can you?

“Simon Grayson is doing a fantastic job, he’s not far off four years in the job now.

“He has a group of players who will work hard for him.

“Preston might not have players who Premier League clubs will come and take off us.

“But I’ll tell you what, in terms of commitment, desire and organisation, as well as playing for the manager and coaching staff, we are in the top three of this league.

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“The budget is one of the lowest in the Championship, there are teams with budgets of £90m and £70m.

“I get to see more games now than I used to – my son and I have season tickets.

“After games, I go to see Simon in his office and every visiting manager who comes in will say that they warned their players to expect a tough game against us here.

“I saw Trevor Hemmings recently and he is very proud of the fact that we don’t owe money to anyone.

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“He’s been involved in the club for years – he was on the board in the 1970s with my stepfather Tom Gore.”

Lawrenson made his debut aged 17 for PNE, going on to play more than 70 games before a £100,000 move took him to Brighton.

He later joined Liverpool for a then-club record £900,000.

Now aged 59, Lawrenson still works for the BBC as a television and radio pundit.

Casting his eye over the Preston squad, Lawrenson said: “I’m a big Daniel Johnson fan, he makes it look easy.

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“Jordan Hugill has come good – when he first came into the side I wasn’t so sure, but he’s scoring goals and looking the part.

“I think Jermaine Beckford will always score you goals, while at the other end of the pitch, Chris Maxwell has come in and done well.

“My son loves John Welsh, loves the way he goes in for a tackle.

“I’ve been delighted with Aiden McGeady too.

“Preston signed him on the day Simon was hosting a charity golf event which I played in.

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“When he told me McGeady was signing, I was a bit surprised because he couldn’t get a game with Sheffield Wednesday when he was on loan there last season.

“But he has come here and done well.

“McGeady is a bit like Paul Gallagher, in that he makes things happen against the norm – he can beat people in a little bit of space.

“Is he right or left-footed? You wouldn’t know because he is so comfortable with both.

“He gets his head up and sees what is around him.

“With the group of players here, Preston can play 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or three at the back.

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“The other week I was at the training ground through my work with the Baby Beat charity – some people had won a raffle prize to watch training.

“Simon didn’t half work the lads hard and they were great, putting in a real shift.”

Meanwhile, North End’s principle sponsor 888sport are providing eight free coaches for the away game against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, December 14.