PNE boss plays guessing game

Daniel Johnson is likely to start for PNE against Bury at Gigg Lane
Daniel Johnson is likely to start for PNE against Bury at Gigg Lane
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Simon Grayson says he will not give away too many clues about his team selection for Preston North End’s opener against Middlesbrough in tomorrow’s final friendly with Bury.

Although it will be a strong Lilywhites side which plays at Gigg Lane, the fine tuning for the Boro game will be done on the training pitch next week rather than in public.

Grayson rested some key players for the midweek defeat to Carlisle, with Jermaine Beckford, Joe Garner, Paul Gallagher and Paul Huntington sitting it out.

There was a substitute’s role at Brunton Park for Daniel Johnson and the midfielder is a likely starter tomorrow.

North End boss Grayson said: “Every supporter in the country will see look at their team’s last friendly and think that is going to be the team for the start of the season.

“That is not the case – some who play at Bury will start the Middlesbrough game, others might not. I know what the starting XI is going to be for the opening game but I’m not going to go public with it.

“There are a couple of niggles that might rule one or two out and I might decide to play a different system this weekend. We still have a full week ahead of us on the training pitch to do our work and go through different things.”

Grayson is looking to add two new faces before the season starts.

North End saw right-back target Tendayi Darikwa join Burnley last night.

Both clubs had bids in the region of £600,000 accepted by Chesterfield

PNE officials met with the player and his agent on Wednesday night, with them then moving on to meet the Clarets yesterday.

North End have another option for the right-back vacancy who they enquired about during the summer.

The target is believed to be available on loan although Preston might try to do a permanent deal.

Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is back in England after Manchester United’s tour of the USA, and PNE hope to conclude a season-long loan.

Said Grayson: “We still feel we have additions to make. The right-back and goalkeeping situations needs to be resolved and hopefully we will know one way or the other on both positions in the next 24 to 48 hours.

“We have had contact with United about Sam over the last few days. Them signing a new keeper might help us or it might not – hopefully we can get a positive answer soon.

“Sam being on United’s tour means he has been working to the highest of standards.”