PNE boss pinpoints crucial quality

Simon Grayson is pleased with PNE's form since the last international break
Simon Grayson is pleased with PNE's form since the last international break
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Simon Grayson thinks that an increase in belief among the Preston North End squad has been one of the reasons behind their upturn in results.

The Lilywhites took 10 points from six games between the October and November international breaks.

That was in contrast to the previous block of matches when they drew two and lost three in the Championship.

PNE manager Grayson told the Evening Post: “The players are believing themselves a little bit more.

“We have seen confidence coming into their play and each game we have gone unbeaten has given them that extra spring in their step.

“Their work-rate has never been something which could be faulted.

“Whether we have won, drawn or lost this season, the effort, desire and spirit has been there.

“A little bit of quality has been lacking at times but the desire is there.

“Put together that spirit, work-rate and confidence, and you will gets results.”

This international break is the third of the campaign but there will not be another one until late March.

After the September break, North End had a pretty miserable time.

They drew with Bristol City and Wolves, losing against Derby, Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday.

There was the spirited display against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup in which they took the Cherries to a penalty shoot-out.

Since resuming action in mid-October, Grayson’s men have beaten Charlton and Nottingham Forest.

They have shared goalless draws with Cardiff, Brighton, Bolton and QPR.

A Deepdale derby with Blackburn kicks things off again a week on Saturday, which is followed by the November visit to Fulham.

Then they make the visit up the M65 to the east of the county to tackle Burnley at Turf Moor on December 5.

There are back-to-back home matches against Reading and Birmingham, before the Sunday visit to Leeds five days before Christmas.

Over Christmas, North End visit Huddersfield on Boxing Day, before hosting Hull City on December 28 and Rotherham on January 2.

Said Grayson: “After the recent good results, the focus is now on how we come back after the international break.

“We went into the last break having lost at Sheffield Wednesday, responding to that in a really positive manner. When we start again, we want to pick up where we left and there is no bigger game to do that in than against Blackburn at home.”

The visit of Rovers to Deepdale will see Grayson up against one of the clubs he turned out for in his playing career.

He joined them from Aston Villa for £750,000 in July 1999, signing on the same day as current PNE goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly.

Grayson made 38 appearances in his first campaign at Ewood Park.

But in the next two seasons, Grayson played only once for Rovers, with Graeme Souness loaning him out to Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport, Notts County and Bradford City.

During his loan spell at Stockport, he was sent off playing against North End in February 2001 – a game which PNE won 1-0.