PNE boss sets out targets

Bailey Wright will have a back injury assessed
Bailey Wright will have a back injury assessed
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Simon Grayson says Preston North End’s focus during 2016 will be trained intently on growing as a Championship club.

After winning promotion at Wembley last May and steadily climbing the table in the first five months of this season, PNE boss Grayson is targeting further improvement.

“We have to make ourselves better week in, week out, in 2016,” said Grayson.

“As a squad of players and a staff, we have to keep our focus and strive for better.

“Recently we have had a good run and have got a decent points tally.

“That is something to build on, we want to improve, whether that is on a matchday or on the training ground.

“If we do that, we will keep moving forward as a club.

“We saw at the end of the game against Rotherham on Saturday, how much this club means to people.

“The fans were fantastic, they willed us to victory and the way the late goal was celebrated was brilliant.

“Last year was a successful one for Preston and hopefully we can be just as successful in 2016.

“As a manager, I’m still learning after 10 years and will continue to do that – if you ever stop learning, you are going to be out of a job.”

After kicking off the year with the last-gasp victory over Rotherham, North End turn their attention to the FA Cup this weekend.

They head to London Road on Saturday to take on a Peterborough side managed by Grayson’s predecessor Graham Westley.

Before then, Preston will assess the fitness of Bailey Wright, the centre-back having been substituted at half-time in the Rotherham game.

The Australia international hurt his back when he collided with the post clearing a shot from Danny Ward off the line.

Paul Huntington came off the bench to replace him.

Callum Robinson, signed on loan from Aston Villa on Tuesday, will be in the squad for the visit to Posh.

Whether he starts is another matter, the 20-year-old’s last game at first-team level being in early October.

North End expect to do further incoming business this month to follow-up Robinson’s loan arrival.

Robinson’s signing is designed to fill the void on the right-hand side of the front line created by Will Keane’s exit and the season-ending injury suffered by Chris Humphrey.

A striker remains on the wanted list to replace Stevie May and compete with Joe Garner, Eoin Doyle and Jordan Hugill.

Meanwhile, Seattle Sounders midfielder Aaron Kovar is to train with Preston.

It is the close-season in the MLS at the moment and this will be the second year Kovar has trained in England, having been at Sheffield Wednesday last winter.

Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said: “Aaron is a talented young player and these type of experiences are always positive for development and fitness purposes.

“We’re hopeful that his time in England will be beneficial, allowing Aaron to hit the ground running with us in Seattle in a few weeks.”