Laird up for a Posh push

Scott Laird challenges Crewe's James Jones at Deepdale
Scott Laird challenges Crewe's James Jones at Deepdale
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Preston North End left-back Scott Laird says he relishes helping the Lilywhites stay in the top two after spending much of the season outside the automatic promotion slots.

PNE moved into second place a fortnight ago and will look to keep a tight grip on it when they host Peterborough at Deepdale.

Laird will take being chased, rather than being the chaser, any day of the week in the race to finish first or second.

And he hopes that the prize at the end of it will be another promotion on his CV.

“It is a different type of pressure being where we are now but that’s fine by me,” Laird told the Evening Post.

“For a lot of the season we have been doing the chasing and now we are up there in the top two.

“We were in there for a short time earlier in the season, before falling out of it.

“Hopefully the experience of that spell will help us this time and we can stay up there.

“It is going to be hard – we will have to be better to stay up there because teams will raise their game against us.

“If we can carry on being ruthless in both boxes, we will certainly help ourselves.

“I have luckily been involved in three promotions during my career. They have involved both doing the chasing and being up there getting chased.

“When you are involved in a promotion push, you get the feeling the lads are ‘on it’ and are really going for it. I’m getting that feeling here – you can see that from our combination play in attacking areas recently.

“The lads across the front, Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher in midfield, the full-backs pushing up – there is a good understanding there.

“We produced some great free-flowing football at times against Crewe on Saturday, and had some good movement.

“Players know each other’s movement and we are doing some good things. It was another display at the weekend – I thought we started each half really well.

“We scored some great goals and it was just a shame that we conceded the goal.

“In the past if we had let one in after being two up, in the past we might have tended to sit back a bit to defend,

“This time we kicked on again and scored a few more goals.”

Four of the goals alluded to by Laird were scored by Joe Garner, the striker taking his tally for an injury-interrupted season to 20.

Laird is full of admiration for Garner, as he is for Jermaine Beckford who notched the fifth against Crewe.

“I don’t want to big Joe up too much because I don’t want other clubs taking him,” said Laird.

“But he is one of the best players I have played with – I’m not afraid to say that or make his head any bigger!

“His intelligence and bravery are the biggest things. When he hasn’t got the ball he will stick his head or foot in there knowing he could get hurt.

“He has got the bravery to get on the ball to try and make something happen.

“Joe’s fourth goal showed that at the moment, things are going for him.

“I think he celebrated that one before it came to him. Early in the game he tried an audacious lob from the half-way line – fair play to him.

“He has got that sort of thing in his locker. Maybe 99 times out of 100 a shot like that doesn’t go in but he has the confidence to try it.

“Jermaine played really well too. I said to him during the game that he could have scored five or six goals in terms of the work he put in and the chances created.

“What you find with him is that he drops into some great little pockets of space, makes it hard for the other team to pick him up. It is great to have Jermaine and Joe, then have the option of Kevin Davies and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to come on.”

Peterborough’s visit is the start of a spell of games against teams with designs on the play-offs.

Posh are in seventh place, with Saturday’s opponents Barnsley in sixth.

A week on Sunday, PNE go to eighth-placed Fleetwood, then it is Rochdale and Bradford over Easter.

Said Laird: “Peterborough are always tough opponents.

“When I was with Stevenage we used to play them every pre-season and often got them in the cups too.

“They are a good footballing side with some good players, always a tough cookie to crack.

“It will be a good game. When we won at their place in December we were very professional and worked hard as a team to win.

“Recently, Peterborough have picked up some good results and climbed the table.

“They will come here full of confidence but we are playing with confidence and if we play to our strengths we can give anyone a game.”