Grezza’s boys present big test for PNE

Ex-PNE favourite Graham Alexander is now in charge of Fleetwood
Ex-PNE favourite Graham Alexander is now in charge of Fleetwood
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Simon Grayson predicts that Deepdale legend Graham Alexander will be as tough an opponent as any when Preston North End visit Fleetwood tomorrow.

Cod Army boss Alexander played 421 games for PNE and cut his coaching teeth with the club as caretaker-manager and youth-team coach.

Grezza’s loyalties are now with Fleetwood where he has been in charge for 27 months.

So his presence in the Highbury Stadium dugout provides extra spice for the televised derby (2.15pm).

Lilywhites boss Grayson said: “The important thing is what the players do on the pitch and I’m sure Graham will say the same thing.

“Come 2.15pm on Sunday he has no loyalty to this club 
– he won’t want any result other than a Fleetwood win.

“I’m sure that at the end of the season Graham would be absolutely delighted if we managed to get promotion to the Championship because of his connections here.

“But for 90 minutes he will have no hesitation in trying to turn us over.

“Fleetwood are having a good season and are very much one of the teams who have been promoted and carried their momentum forward.

“They have some good players and Graham has done a fantastic job there.

“It is a club which has come a long way, one which is very much on the up.”

Grayson’s men travel to the Fylde coast on the back of a 10-game unbeaten league run.

Victory would stretch their lead over Swindon and MK Dons, who both have a blank weekend having postponed their games because of international call-ups.

PNE have players away with their countries – Callum Robinson, Bailey Wright and Scott Wiseman – but could get a couple of them back.

Alan Browne played for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s on Thursday night and is available tomorrow.

Said Grayson: “There is a possibility that one or two might come back early.

“We have asked that if they aren’t going to be involved would it be possible for them to play for us.

“I have asked the question and it is up to others, it is not my decision.

“This week we have done our preparation without them and if one or two came back that would be a bonus.

“If they don’t, we have lads who will come into the side having kept themselves in top shape while not in the team.”

Should Preston have to do without the internationals, Calum Woods is likely to come in at right-back to allow Tom Clarke to switch to centre-half in Wright’s absence.

Grayson got some match sharpness into his squad with a practice game at Springfields during the week.

“We had an in-house game – some of the youth team played and the intensity was excellent,” said Grayson.

“I’m not saying there were tackles flying in left, right and centre, but the lads covered the ground and distance, put in the work. We’ve had a good week of both training and rest.”