PNE boss has to play the guessing game
Simon Grayson admits part of Preston North End's build-up to today's clash with Wolves will involve having to second-guess the plans of his opposite number Paul Lambert.
The Deepdale clash (3pm) is Lambert’s first in charge of the Molineux outfit after succeeding Walter Zenga a fortnight ago.
So PNE boss Grayson won’t have previous games as a guide to how Wolves might line-up.
“I can work out and analysis the players they have on their staff, I can work out what Paul might do as a manager,” said Grayson.
“But what he is going to throw together in terms of personnel and systems is very difficult for anyone to work out because he has not managed Wolves in a game yet.
“We have done as much work as we can on Wolves while having to accept there might be a few surprises on the team sheet.
“More importantly, it is about the work we have done on our game, putting into practice the good habits which we have instilled into the players over the last few weeks.
“That is being hard-working, hard to beat, taking our chances – all the ingredients of the good results we have had in the last couple of months.
“I’m not surprised to see Paul back in football.
“Any manager who loses his job and has a real hunger and desire, wants to get back in as quickly as possible – and at the right club too.
“He obviously feels Wolves is a good opportunity, it is a big football club.
“They have foreign owners now and he will be looking to do whatever he thinks is needed to get a club back to where they think they belong.”
Grayson will be able to call on Ben Pearson today after a one-match suspension for five yellow cards kept him out of the win at Rotherham.
While the team played well in that 3-1 victory, having the in-form Pearson back in midfield is a boost.
The fortnight’s international break has been put to good use by North End, in terms of keeping the squad ticking over and preparing them for the fixtures ahead.
Said Grayson: “We’ve got the right work into the players.
“It’s been a mix of 11-a-side, smaller-sided games, running, tactical and technical work.
“The work we’ve been doing has been getting the players prepared for the next group of games, probably right through until Christmas.
“We go Saturday to Saturday for the next few weeks and then it starts getting full-on again.
“This a tough division and we have to be ready for that.
“Just because we had a run of games last month against sides classed – on paper – as ones who will be challenging for promotion, doesn’t make the next few games any easier.
“This division is relentless, we play a club next with a new manager in charge, then a newly-promoted side.
“We’ve done a lot of work with the players to make sure they are in the right condition for the games and hopefully we can keep our good run going.”