PNE boss in salute to fans

Simon Grayson is excited at the prospect of Preston North End playing in front of their biggest away following for 16 years at Blackburn this weekend.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 29th March 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2016, 9:41 pm
Jermaine Beckford played 55 minutes in a practice game at Deepdale
Jermaine Beckford played 55 minutes in a practice game at Deepdale

The Lilywhites will have the backing of 7,000 supporters at Ewood Park for the Saturday lunchtime clash.

Bar play-off finals, it is the largest backing on the road which PNE have had since they played Wigan in April 2000.

North End boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “To sell the tickets so quickly and have that many fans going to Blackburn is fantastic.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“The players really do appreciate what the supporters do and hopefully we can reward their efforts with a good performance and result.

“It would be quite easy to sell 7,000 tickets if you are top of the league.

“We aren’t in that position though – it is a case of us being on the cusp of things which could or could not happen.

“It shows what we are doing as a club, we are going in the right direction.

“I’m looking forward to it and I don’t think Blackburn will have had too many 7,000 away followings recently.”

Grayson had three seasons on Blackburn’s books as a player, joining them from Aston Villa in July 1999 in a £750,000 deal.

He was a regular in his first year there before falling out of favour with then Rovers manager Graeme Souness.

Four loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport, Notts County and Bradford followed.

Although Grayson has been back to Ewood Park since for scouting reasons and also to play in a charity game, he has not yet managed a team there.

Said Grayson: “This will be the first time back for me in an official capacity.

“I think it is also the first time back for Paul Gallagher and Joe Garner, if they are selected for the game.

“It is a big game for us, we have been going well and there is plenty to play for over the next eight matches.”

The North End squad were back in training yesterday after being given three days off over the Easter weekend.

Grayson got plenty of work into them last week and the build-up to Blackburn will continue over the coming days.

“After the QPR game, the lads had Sunday and Monday off,” said Grayson.

“We had three good days of training last week, which included a practice game at Deepdale on Thursday.

“Everyone got a run in that – it was good that Jermaine Beckford got 55 minutes under his belt.

“We mixed the sides up, we had lads coming back from injury, the ones who have been on the fringes lately and the players who have played in every game.

“It had a nice competitive edge and was a good workout for the squad.

“We are trying to use this international break to get the players in the best possible shape for the last eight games.

“Over the weekend we gave them a bit of time off to recharge the batteries and now we are back working.”