PNE boss keeping it clean

Jamie Jones is Preston's senior goalkeeper at the moment
Jamie Jones is Preston's senior goalkeeper at the moment
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Simon Grayson will be looking for Preston North End to continue their clean-sheet mentality as they venture to Southport tonight for the latest pre-season friendly.

The Lilywhites have yet to concede in their three bounce games to date against Chorley, Bamber Bridge and Hearts.

Grayson was particularly impressed with the shut-out in the Hearts clash, his defence protecting goalkeeper Jamie Jones very well.

“When you look overall at the game I don’t think Jamie had a save to make – that is testament to the team that we put out,” PNE boss Grayson told the Evening Post.

“Whoever we put out we want them to defend properly and that is from the front to the midfield, to the defenders and the goalkeeper.

“It was pleasing on Saturday that we did not concede again, pleasing that the goalkeeper has had nothing to do and hopefully that will continue.”

Grayson of course accepts that sterner tests are on the horizon for his side and attempts are ongoing to strengthen the defence.

Jones has got the gloves at the moment, with North End waiting on Sam Johnstone’s availability – the keeper is on Manchester United’s tour of the United States.

It might be that Jones shares the keeping duties with Steven James tonight (7pm kick-off).

Against Hearts he played the full game, while at Chorley and Brig he made way for James during the second half.

The visit to National League side Southport is a chance for more of the squad to get longer spells on the pitch. Against Hearts, Grayson fielded what would generally be regarded as a full-strength side, only beginning to make substitutions midway through the second half.

Tom Clarke and Daniel Johnson were the two outfield players to play the full game.

There could be starts at Southport for Andy Little, Josh Brownhill, Alan Browne and Jordan Hugill, who were substitutes at the weekend.

Grayson was pleased with the home debut of Will Keane against Hearts, the loanee starting off in a role behind Joe Garner and Jermaine Beckford before moving to the left-hand side of a front three.

“I thought we saw some really good glimpses from Will,” said Grayson.

“He’s obviously still working out partnerships with players and understanding of relationships with others on the pitch.

“I was really pleased with him. He created a good opportunity for himself with some clever movement.

“He holds the ball up well, he’s got an eye for goal so I’m pleased – he’s only going to get better.

“We brought him here because he is a good player, a good striker.

“As we said at the time when we signed him, a lot of Championship clubs were after him and we are grateful that we managed to get him.

“Will gives us good flexibility in that we can go and play him in different positions – but he’s got quality as well.”