London calling for PNE

Eoin Doyle is likely to start for PNE at Charlton tonight
Eoin Doyle is likely to start for PNE at Charlton tonight
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Simon Grayson will have to scratch around to put together Preston North End’s defence for the clash with Charlton tonight but his options of who to play up front have improved.

Eoin Doyle returns for the trip to The Valley, having sat out Saturday’s 0-0 draw with parent club Cardiff City.

With the Lilywhites looking to bolster their meagre goal return, Doyle is likely to get his second start in a PNE shirt.

It will be mix-and-match at the back though, with injuries biting hard in defensive areas.

A shoulder injury is set to rule skipper Tom Clarke out, while North End are treading carefully with Paul Huntington’s recovery from a hamstring strain.

Ben Davies has travelled with the squad, having been recalled from a loan spell at Southport.

It might be that Bailey Wright is partnered by Calum Woods at the heart of the back four, the pair having played together in the latter stages of the Cardiff game after Clarke’s departure.

“We will not look at these injuries as excuses,” said PNE manager Grayson.

“Whoever is available, we will go to Charlton looking to try and win the game.

“Calum Woods has played at centre-half a couple of times recently and given everything for the team.

“The injuries we have got are not ideal but we will put a defensive unit together.

“In the summer when we had Tom, Bailey and Hunts available, there was always a possibility of a fourth defender coming as cover.

“But it is not easy to bring in defenders at that stage when they know they aren’t going to go straight into the side.

“We have been unfortunate with injuries but it is something we have to deal with.”

Doyle’s return and that of Joe Garner once he serves the final game of his ban tonight, will be welcome.

Grayson acknowledges the struggles that all of his front men have had in the league but his faith remains in all of them.

“As a team, we have to keep working hard to supply the opportunities for our strikers,” said Grayson.

“When those chances come along, the strikers have to learn to relax a bit more.

“We want the players to express themselves and to give themselves the best opportunity to score.

“I genuinely believe we have got a good group here who are desperate to do well.

“Once one goal goes in, more will follow and they will get on a run.

“We are not a million miles away from some good results.”

The PNE squad travelled to London by train last night and will remain down south until after Saturday’s game at Brighton – in between they will train at Bisham Abbey.

Said Grayson: “It will be good to spend some time together.

“We’ve got a training base and then we will go to Brighton on Friday afternoon.

“There would have been a lot of travelling up and down had we not done this, it will be a change of scene.”