Exclusive Sean Gregan column

North End's Neil Kilkenny battles with Huddersfield Town's Jonathan Hogg (left) and Emyr Huws (right)
North End's Neil Kilkenny battles with Huddersfield Town's Jonathan Hogg (left) and Emyr Huws (right)
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Over the last few months it has been unusual for Preston to concede one goal in a game, let alone three like they did at Huddersfield on Boxing Day.

They were soft goals to let in too, hence it being a very disappointing day for the North End supporters at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The good thing is that they have a game coming up straight away against Hull City in which to try and put things right. It won’t be easy because Hull are right up there in the table but the PNE players have to show the fans and manager what they are capable of.

Everyone at Deepdale on Monday afternoon will want to see a reaction from the team to see that Boxing Day is out of their system.

I am sure some people will be making a lot of the fact that the Preston players were given Christmas Day off, putting the defeat down to that.

The fact Huddersfield had Christmas Day off too, puts that argument to bed.

It might have been better for Simon Grayson to say that the players were in Christmas Day, even when they were not.

That way, is stops it being a talking point and no one has the chance to point the finger.

As a player, I had managers who had different approaches to preparations for Boxing Day matches.

There was one year at North End when David Moyes told us to report in at 6pm on Christmas Day night.

Once we had all arrived and were sat in the dressing room at Deepdale, Moyesy walked in and told us we could go home!

He just wanted to make sure that we had looked after ourselves during the day and hadn’t been drinking any alcohol or eating too much.

At the time, that really did needle a few of the lads and caused a bit of resentment.

When I played for Leeds, we reported in on Christmas Day night ahead of playing at Sunderland on Boxing Day.

Elland Road had undersoil heating and we had a training session before getting on the coach.

Different managers have different ways of doing it.

When we did get Christmas Day off, it was always on condition that either before or after your Christmas dinner, you put the trainers on and went for a run.

These days, players are monitored ever so closely by their clubs.

They have heart monitors which they can wear at home, while it would soon become clear if someone had not looked after themselves.

The day before a game, training tends to be scaled down very much.

It is not about loads of running and fitness work, usually it a run through a bit of shape and a general warm-up.

Sometimes, the best laid plans do not pay off.

One Christmas when I was playing, we set off for an away game at Swansea in the snow.

We were on the bus for 10 hours because the motorways were blocked with snow.

By the time we got to the hotel, we didn’t have time for a meal and just went to bed.

The next day, we went out and won, playing really well.

On other occasions, the journeys have been quick, you eat properly, sleep well and then turn in a shocker of a performance.

Hopefully, North End can respond well in the next two home games and put these defeats at Huddersfield and Leeds behind them.

They have done pretty well since returning to this division and seem to be adapting.

A decent return of points over these next few days would maintain that progress and point them back up the table, opening up more of a gap.