PNE able to focus on cup now says boss

Louis van Gaal brings Manchester United to Deepdale on Monday
Louis van Gaal brings Manchester United to Deepdale on Monday
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Simon Grayson has said a big ‘well done’ to his Preston players for staying focused on the league amid the build-up to the FA Cup meeting with Manchester United.

After securing their place in the fifth round, PNE still had two League One games to play before turning their minds to facing Louis van Gaal’s men.

Last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Coventry was followed up by the 2-0 victory at Chesterfield on Tuesday night.

While they stayed in fourth place, the Lilywhites narrowed the gap on both Swindon and MK Dons.

Grayson’s men can now give their undivided attention to the visit of United.

The players reported back for training this morning and Grayson will face the media afterwards to give his thoughts on Monday’s big clash.

“Full credit to the players for the focus they had on the Coventry and Chesterfield games,” said Grayson.

“They could quite easily have had an eye on the United game but they kept their minds on the league.

“We wanted to get some momentum going and we have now won three games on the trot – one in the FA Cup and two league matches.

“Now we can start looking at the United game and will be aiming to enjoy it.

“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“The lads can look forward to playing against some of the best players in Europe against the background of a fantastic atmosphere.

“This game gives our club a massive profile and hopefully we can do ourselves justice.

“We are going to get all the off-field stuff out of the way and then on Saturday and Sunday get some decent training sessions into us.

“The lads have worked hard to get themselves this game and will continue to work hard to try and get the best result out of it.”

As Leeds manager five years ago, Grayson oversaw a 1-0 victory over United at Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Cup.

Jermaine Beckford netted the winner that day but the striker’s chances of playing on Monday night are slim as he continues to battle a severe inner ear infection.

Reflecting on the win with Leeds, Grayson said: “That was away from home, this is slightly different!

“This is a different team, a different club, a different time.

“What I will do is say the same thing as the players leave the dressing room – enjoy it and have no regrets.”

The return of Joe Garner to action in the past week has been a huge boost for PNE.

He scored twice during his first start since November at Chesterfield, a significant step in his comeback after two substitute appearances.

Said Grayson: “Much credit has to go to the surgeon who did a good job with Joe, so too Matt Jackson and Tom Little here who helped him with his rehabilitation work.

“Joe was ultra-professional in getting back to fitness.

“He will get better because of the game time he still needs.

“Just having his name on the team sheet is a big lift.

“Paul Cook the Chesterfield manager saw it on Tuesday and joked couldn’t I leave him out for one more game?

“Every manager in our division would say the same thing – that is what happens when you have good players in your camp.

“We have been very careful with Joe and will continue to be, going forward.

“It was a rare injury, not one you expect but it has healed properly.

“This time last week we were excited because he had played 10 minutes at Sheffield United.

“Now we have seen Joe start a game, score twice and get through until the closing stages.”