Huge incentive for PNE in FA Cup

Andy Little, left, couldbe set for a return to the PNE squad this weekend
Andy Little, left, couldbe set for a return to the PNE squad this weekend
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Simon Grayson says that the possibility of facing a Premier League ‘big-hitter’ should provide plenty of motivation for Preston North End in their FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury at Deepdale tomorrow.

The visit of the League Two promotion chasers in the second round will be no stroll in the park for Grayson’s men.

At stake is a place in the third-round draw on Monday night when the top-flight and Championship clubs join the competition.

PNE boss Grayson would love to see his side face one of the country’s top clubs but first they must overcome a Shrews side who have won eight of their last 11 games.

Grayson said: “This is the round which everyone wants to get through because of what is potentially waiting around the corner.

“We have a tough game first against a side who are flying in League Two and have already given us a close game in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

“Like all the other sides in this round we want to get through and really hope to draw a big hitter.

“We know we are not going to win the FA Cup but it would nice to draw a big club, home or away – that would be great for our profile.

“Last season we had a good run in the competition and it can bode well for your league form too.

“Hopefully we can do a professional job, put ourselves into Monday’s draw and get a favourable tie.”

Grayson’s stellar moment in the FA Cup came when he guided Leeds to a 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2010.

Jermaine Beckford netted the winner that day and he will be looking to open his PNE account tomorrow, having been granted permission by Bolton to play – Middlesbrough have done likewise with Bradley Fewster.

There is the possibility of Andy Little returning to the squad after three months on the sidelines with hamstring and calf injuries.

“On Wednesday we had a reserve game at Wolves. Andy Little came through 70 to 80 minutes, which was good for him,” said Grayson.

“We feel he is nearly there and we’ll assess him to see if he is ready for the weekend.

“Having him back would be a big boost for us – he’s had a bit of a stop-start time because of the niggles he’s had.

“It has been tough for Andy at times, his injuries haven’t been major like the ones Joe Garner and Jordan Hugill have had – you can come to terms with those sort.

“But with soft tissue injuries, like Andy has had, you think you are getting close and then something else happens.

“Hopefully the physios have got him sorted now because he can give a different dimension to our play.”

Tomorrow’s game is only the second to be played at Deepdale in the last six weeks.

PNE’s last appearance in front of the home faithful saw a 2-1 defeat to Bradford.

Grayson said: “It will be nice to be back at home after all the travelling – that has been especially tough on the fans.

“We suffered our first defeat in 11 months at home the last time we played here so we want to get back to winning ways here very quickly.”