Grayson happy with PNE progress

Simon Grayson after his first game in charge of Preston at Swindon 13 months ago
Simon Grayson after his first game in charge of Preston at Swindon 13 months ago
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Simon Grayson will take promotion-chasing Preston North End back to the scene of his first game in charge when they visit Swindon tomorrow.

It is 13 months since Grayson oversaw a 1-1 draw at the County Ground, and the PNE manager is pleased with the progress made in that time.

His aim over the remaining nine games of this season is for the improvement to continue in order to grab an automatic promotion place or, at the very least, enter the play-offs with momentum.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “We have changed a lot since that first game.

“Yesterday morning I was looking at the team sheet and the squad has changed quite dramatically from then.

“Some of the players we had last year have moved on and we have evolved the squad.

“We have got a really strong squad now with a lot more quality and I’m really pleased with how the club is progressing.

“I said when I first came in that I wanted to keep the club moving as quickly as possible in order to get it to where it wants to be.

“We have sought to do that with changes on and off the pitch.

“Once we got to the summer, the aim was to get into the 
play-offs or just around there.

“I don’t think we really had an objective at that stage of making the top two.

“We have probably done better than I thought we would do in pre-season. We have only lost four games in the league and have been in touching distance of the top two for a large part of the season.

“The consistency level has been fantastic and it is credit to the three teams above who have made it so difficult for us to get into that top two.

“I think we can look back at a good season so far but we want to make sure that it ends in a more positive manner.”

Seven of the matchday squad from last February’s visit to Wiltshire have since left North End, either permanently or on loan.

Grayson’s big task over the next few weeks will be getting his side to kill off games in order to cut out the draws and put more wins on the board.

Five of PNE’s last nine games have ended all-square, throwing a spanner into the works when it comes to chasing automatic promotion.

Said Grayson: “Everyone is frustrated about drawing 15 games.

“But if someone had said last season that we would only have lost four games at this stage, you would have taken it.

“We can’t allow ourselves to dwell too much on what has happened – we need to focus on winning as many of the next nine games as we can.”

Grayson said it is unlikely at this stage that he will be recruiting more players for the final run-in.

North End yesterday allowed Iain Hume to join Fleetwood Town on loan.

“If we feel it necessary to get someone before next week then we will do,” said Grayson.

“At the moment I wouldn’t think that will be the case.”

Hume’s move to the Cod Army should see him get a run of games, something he has not been getting at North End.

Grayson admitted that it had not quite worked out for the Canada international since he returned to Deepdale from last season’s loan at Doncaster.

He said: “It was great boost when we announced last summer that Iain was staying.

“Iain would have liked to have played a bit more but in football people get ahead of others.

“Joe Garner has come to the table, got a lot of goals and been the main striker. We’ve brought Craig Davies in and have got Kevin Davies and Stuart Beavon too.”