PNE boss pleased with team’s progress

Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson
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Simon Grayson will be aiming for Preston North End to continue their Championship progression against his former side Leeds on Sunday.

The Lilywhites cross the Pennines having lost just one of their last 11 games, a run which has taken them from the foot of the division into lower mid-table.

Sunday’s clash (3pm) will be the first time Grayson has taken a side to Elland Road since he was sacked by Leeds in February 2012.

While Grayson did manage Huddersfield against them, that was a home game for the Terriers.

North End are unbeaten in their last four, draws against Fulham and Birmingham sandwiching wins over Burnley and Reading.

Grayson said: “I’m delighted with how things are going.

“We are progressing as a football club and the players are progressing as individuals.

“Every game we play in, every training session we do, we learn from them and take it out on the pitch with us the next time we play.

“This has been a big step-up when you look at the players in this division, the clubs and the money being thrown around.

“We are not getting carried away because we are not yet at the half-way stage and there are 20 odd more games to go.

“But the spirit among the lads is excellent and they will always give things a right go.”

PNE’s support will be down in numbers this weekend, not because of performances but due to the high prices being charged by Leeds.

An adult ticket costs £37 and that rises to £42 on the day.

As of yesterday lunchtime, sales were just under the 700 mark.

North End believed that had prices been lower, they would have close to selling out their 3,000 allocation.

Grayson was in charge of Leeds for more than three years and was proud of his achievements at the club where he started his career as a player.

He got them promoted from League One and they finished seventh in their first season back in the Championship.

“I remember it being a bit of a rollercoaster to get out of Blackpool to go to Leeds,” said Grayson.

“Leeds was a job I was really desperate to go and do and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“I think I was successful with the cup runs, a promotion and where they finished in the Championship.

“It is nearly four years since I left and I’ve not taken a side there yet.

“My job this weekend is to put a game plan together to make sure we get three points and get higher up the table.”

Apart from long-term casualties Jermaine Beckford, Chris Humphrey and Stevie May, there is a full squad for Grayson to choose from.

After remarking that the team looked ‘leggy’ in the second half of Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham, there could be a tweak or two to the starting XI.

Grayson might be tempted to use the 3-5-2 system which has done well in away games.