PNE boss hails team spirit

Jack King coould return to the bench on Sunday
Jack King coould return to the bench on Sunday
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Simon Grayson believes the close bond between the Preston North End players will play a big part in their push for automatic promotion.

The Lilywhites manager has labelled the team spirit ‘immense’ even though he regularly has to leave a group of players out of a matchday squad because of the numbers available.

Grayson said: “The squad get along with each other very well and that is important.

“You might think that is easy to say because we have all been in dressing rooms where players who have not been playing have bickered and looked for excuses.

“This is probably one of the best groups that I have worked with in my career in that respect.

“The team spirit is immense – players not in the side are willing the others along.

“Of course, every player just wants to play and it is hard for the lads out of the team.

“However, they are very professional, they train like demons and run hard when we ask them to.

“We all want to get to the same place – we set ourselves a target of promotion at the start of the season.”

Grayson will be dipping a bit deeper into his squad than of late for Sunday’s derby clash with Fleetwood.

He has regular starters Bailey Wright and Callum Robinson missing because of international duty, so too Scott Wiseman and Alan Browne.

That will open doors to slots in the matchday squad, with Jack King, David Buchanan Kyel Reid and Josh Brownhill among those hoping to benefit.

With the season now down to single figures of games, it promises to be an exciting few weeks at the top of League One, with PNE, Swindon and MK Dons battling for an automatic place.

At the moment, North End hold a three-point advantage over Swindon and are four clear of MK Dons.

Grayson says a level-headed approach is needed for the run-in and is keen to stick with the principles which have carried them into the automatic promotion frame.

“I’ll try and work off the experience I’ve had as both a manager and player,” Grayson told TalkSport Radio. “You have to try and remain level-headed, I know people will say that is not easy to do but you have to.

“We have to maintain the things which have got us to where we are currently.

“One thing we keep saying to the players is that while they have worked ever so hard to get into this position, they now have to work even harder to keep it going.

“Everyone wants to beat you when you’re up there, the teams behind want to catch up with you.

“We have to keep believing in what we’ve been doing.

“If we try anything much different all of a sudden, you can come unstuck and other teams could catch us.

“We are coming up to a big part of the season – people often see Easter as a defining period with two games in three or four days.

“But we have a game before Easter and more after that.

“We have recovered from a dodgy January and given ourselves a good opportunity.

“A lot of hard work is still needed.”