PNE boss plans old pal's axe

Friendship will be cast aside for 90 minutes when Simon Grayson and Craig Hignett patrol the technical area during Preston's clash with Hartlepool at Deepdale.
Padraig Amond joined Hartlepool in the summer to bolster their strike forcePadraig Amond joined Hartlepool in the summer to bolster their strike force
Padraig Amond joined Hartlepool in the summer to bolster their strike force

PNE boss Grayson and his Pools counterpart Hignett were team-mates in their playing days at Blackburn.

The pair are good pals but tonight they will be rivals with a place in the second round of the League Cup at stake.

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Grayson said: “I know Higgy really well, we were at Blackburn together and keep in touch now.

“He went as assistant to Colin Cooper at Hartlepool then went back to Middlesbrough’s academy and then their first team for a while.

“Last season he went back to Hartlepool as manager and he did well there.

“Now he is looking to move the club forward and take them up the division.

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“It will be nice to see him but I hope it is him who is disappointed afterwards.

“Hartlepool will have an urgency about their play, they have some experienced players in Rob Jones, Billy Paynter and one or two others.

“They will doing their upmost to cause an upset and there are always a few upsets in the early rounds of this competition.

“We have to make sure we aren’t on the end of a shock and are in the hat for the next round.

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“This is a big game for us because it is the next one and this is a competition we want to make progress in.”

Pools kicked off their League Two campaign with a 1-1 draw against Colchester at Victoria Park.

Experienced striker Paynter, who had a spell playing under Grayson at Leeds, scored from the penalty spot.

Paynter was partnered up front at the weekend by former Morecambe and Accrington striker Padraig Amond who joined Pools from Grimsby in the summer.

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Hignett is likely to make changes from Saturday for their visit to Deepdale, citing the strength of his squad as being the reason for that and not because he does not value the competition.

The Hartlepool manager said: “They all know now that it’s not 11 or 12 players – you can go to 16, 17, 18 players who are all capable of playing and the standard not dropping.

“That’s a massive difference from last year, not just personnel but shape.

“I have a lot of good options. I’ll pick teams I think will win games.

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“I think last season I played the same team for something like seven or eight games on the bounce

“Not this season – we have a squad now, I will use them all, I’m confident in what I’ve got.

“I will chop and change as the season goes on.”