PNE boss has one eye on future

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Simon Grayson says that Preston’s return to the Championship will strengthen their hand in the transfer market this summer in terms of holding on to their loan stars.

Jermaine Beckford, Paul Gallagher and Sam Johnstone all played key roles in PNE’s promotion which was clinched in yesterday’s play-off final against Swindon at Wembley.

A champagne-soaked Simon Grayson holds the League One play-off final trophy after PNE's 4-0 win over Swindon at Wembley

A champagne-soaked Simon Grayson holds the League One play-off final trophy after PNE's 4-0 win over Swindon at Wembley

Beckford netted a hat-trick in the 4-0 victory, with Gallagher providing two assists before limping off with a calf injury.

There was another clean sheet for goalkeeper Johnstone.

Much of the limelight fell on Beckford, who scored 18 goals for North End during his loan spell from Bolton.

He has been released by Wanderers and is certain to be hot property in the Bosman market over the summer.

With regards to Beckford’s future, Grayson said: “It makes the job easier by what we did at Wembley.

“I have spoken to Jermaine over the last few weeks, talking about him being unemployed in a couple of weeks.

“Sunday’s win allows us to compete financially to keep him and others.

“The one thing about Jermaine is that he enjoys playing for myself and Glynn Snodin.

“Money isn’t his motivation – yes it helps – but I think when he is happy you get the best out of him.

“We have a special relationship and you have seen big players come to the fore in the final and play big parts for us.

“There will be some tough decisions over the next few days.

“Some players will be released, some will be offered new contracts.

“Loan players will go back but we will try and do deals with them.

“New players will come to the club – that is all part and parcel of football, whether we got promoted or not

“Hopefully we can do deals for the key players because they are good players.

“Paul Gallagher and Jermaine have both played at a higher level, Sam Johnstone had another clean sheet. The club has got the infrastructure in place and a strong fan base. The owner is determined to be successful.

“It is a fantastic feeling after the massive disappointment on missing out on automatic promotion.

“We will enjoy the next few days and then I will get down to work and decide what I need to do over the summer.

“We have always had a Plan A and Plan B but we have an owner whose club is debt-free and players who want to stay here.

“We are not going to make any rash statements that we are going to do this, that and the other next year.

“We will strengthen in the summer, come back for 
pre-season and try and do as well as we can.”

This is Grayson’s fourth promotion as a manager, with him previously having guided Blackpool, Leeds United and Huddersfield Town out of League One.

He was clearly delighted with the thumping of Swindon who had no answer to PNE’s well thought-out tactics.

Said Grayson: “We had two weeks to plan and organise how we were going to play.

“We knew how exactly how Swindon were going to play and full credit to our players for turning up on the day and executing the game plan to a tee really.

“If you allow Swindon to play, they will hurt you because they are a very good footballing team.

“But we knew we had threats at the top end of the pitch to hurt them as well.

“The lads showed a lot of character to bounce back from the disappointment of the Colchester game.

“They had the determination to finish off a a job which we really should have done three weeks ago.

“We knew we had to get out of the traps very quickly to stop them playing.

“We got the free-kick early and it was a great delivery by Paul Gallagher which Jermaine finished really well.

“Then the second one from Paul Huntington made it a really fantastic start for us.

“After that we had to be disciplined and organised.

“Swindon got a lot of possession but we knew that even with numbers behind the ball, we could go and hit them on the counter-attack.

“When you have Garner and Beckford in the team you are always going to get opportunities.

“The four promotions I have had are equally as important to me.

“I was employed by this club two and a bit years ago because they were desperate to do well and get back to the Championship.

“I have been backed by the owner, not necessarily by a lot of money spent on fees , but on staff around me and behind me and with players who came here desperate to do well.

“It has been a big effort by everyone connected with the club.

“When we came in it was a disappointed club, not going anywhere and fortunately we have worked hard as a club and a city to get to where we wanted to be.”

Grayson revealed that the substitution of Gallagher in the 36th minute was down him getting a kick on the calf.

“Gally did not want to come off but we had to think about the team and the shape,” said Grayson.

“He certainly did his bit with two assists before coming off.”