PNE boss urges strikers to be more ruthless

Striker Joe Garner and his fellow strikers have been urged to be more ruthless inside the penalty area
Striker Joe Garner and his fellow strikers have been urged to be more ruthless inside the penalty area
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Simon Grayson wants his Preston North End strikers to make a New Year resolution to be sharper in the penalty box.

PNE play their first match of 2016 today, facing Rotherham at Deepdale (3pm).

In Championship action, they have yet to score more than one goal in a home game.

That said, a single goal has been enough to see off Nottingham Forest, Reading and Hull City in front of the home faithful.

But Lilywhites boss Grayson wants his players to be more ruthless in the box during the second-half of the season.

A glut of missed chances in the Hull game on Monday almost proved costly, it needing a goalline clearance from John Welsh in the last seconds to secure the win.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “We would love to be winning games 2-0 or 3-0, giving ourselves a bit more breathing space.

“We have managed to do that away from home a couple of times.

“It is about making sure that when we get opportunities in the 18-yard box, we are a lot more ruthless.

“If there is one thing we are learning as the season goes on, is that we cannot afford to take that extra touch in the box.

“Against Hull on Monday, the strikers were taking a touch or two more than was needed before getting their shots away.

“In League One, defenders tend to switch off more and that gives you the extra time to finish things off.

“But in this division you have better defenders who sense danger a lot quicker.

“They get across to make things difficult, even when you think they have given up the ghost.”

Grayson is hoping to have Alan Browne back in the squad today after the midfielder missed the last two games with a tight hamstring.

A similar injury to defender Paul Huntington will also be assessed.

Sam Johnstone will make his second PNE debut after the goalkeeper rejoined on loan from Manchester United.

Rotherham arrive in town hovering just above the relegation zone but Grayson predicts they will be tough opponents.

“I know their manager Neil Redfearn very well, he was the Under-18s and Under-21s coach at Leeds when I was manager there,” said Grayson.

“He knows the job he has to do there and we have had some tough battles with them over the last couple of seasons.

“We have to be respectful of Rotherham and make sure we put in a performance as good as did against Hull.

“It is vital that we start the game right and play with a good tempo, both with and without the ball.”

With the transfer window now open, Grayson hopes to be quite busy.

“We are always on the look out to improve the squad, we can’t stand still,” said Grayson.

“Everyone will have their own ideas on who they think we might need.

“We have to cut our cloth accordingly and use whatever money is left in the budget.”