Simon Grayson has told the Preston North End players to enjoy and embrace their automatic promotion challenge.
The run-in continues tonight with the visit of Gillingham to Deepdale, this the penultimate home game of the season
What I keep saying to the players is ‘you have done what you have done so far, so keep expressing yourselves’
Although Grayson accepts that nerves can kick-in at this stage of the campaign, he says that should not hinder the push for the Championship.
“My message to the players is to keep your focus, enjoy and express yourselves,” said PNE boss Grayson.
“What I keep saying to the players is ‘you have done what you have done so far, so keep expressing yourselves’.
“I tell them to go and play without any fear although whatever division you play in, you can become a bit nervous at this stage.
“Before the lads went out to play Bristol City on Saturday, my team-talk was very similar to how it has been.
“I told them to work hard for the shirt as they had been doing and enjoy it – take people on when they got the chance, take chances were they came along.
“What I want is to see them play with a smile on their faces, embrace what is in front of them and what potentially could happen.”
Grayson says this evening’s clash with the Gills will offer a completely different challenge to that of Bristol City’s visit, both in terms of opposition and atmosphere.
While the Kent club are slap bang in the middle of the table with nothing to play for in terms of the top six or relegation, they are in a decent spell of form.
Said Grayson: “This will be a tough game and is more important than Saturday.
“Saturday’s game took care of itself in terms of atmosphere and adrenaline.
“There is not going to be a big away support given that the game is on a Tuesday night which seems a bit strange.
“Saying that, our supporters had to go down to Gillingham in midweek earlier in the season.
“We will have to generate our own atmosphere as we try to get the three points.”
Grayson’s team selection is unlikely to differ much from Saturday, although there could be a change in formation.
The recent form of Jermaine Beckford has been timely, the striker having scored six goals in his last 10 appearances.
He will again link-up with leading scorer Joe Garner tonight in the hunt for goals.
“When Jermaine came to the club, myself and Glynn Snodin knew exactly what we were getting,” said Grayson.
“People from the outside maybe see a different Jermaine from different clubs.
“He didn’t have the best of times at Bolton but we knew we were getting a lad who enjoys playing for us.
“We like to think we know how to handle him. Jermaine is going to miss chances but he will score goals too.
“His all-round performances have been good, he’s working hard to close defenders down and is making a major contribution with his goals.”