PNE boss urges team to keep up the momemtum from last season

Will Keane
Will Keane
  • Preston manager Simon Grayson wants to continue the feel good factor from winning promotion
  • North End face tough proposition in the shape of one of the title favourites Middlesbrough
  • Bumper crowd expected at Deepdale for opening game of the new Championship season
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Simon Grayson will tell his Preston North End players to keep their foot on the gas in order to carry the momentum of promotion into the return to the Championship.

The Lilywhites start back in the second tier against Middlesbrough at Deepdale tomorrow lunchtime, the televised high noon clash with Boro one of the toughest openers they could have got.

There is probably no bigger game than playing Boro who are the favourites for the division.

An attendance around the 16,000 mark is expected, with more than 3,500 set to make the trip from Teesside.

North End Boro were both Wembley finalists over the May spring bank holiday, the sides having contrasting fortunes under the arch.

The day after PNE thrashed Swindon 4-0, Aitor Karanka’s men lost 2-0 to Norwich in the Championship play-off final.

Preston manager Simon Grayson said: “We want to carry that momentum – the feel good factor – with us into the new season.

“In reverse, potentially Middlesbrough could have a carry over from losing at Wembley.

“But they could well use the disappointment of Wembley as motivation to go one better this season – we did that after losing to Rotherham in the play-off semi-finals.

“Being able to line-up in the Championship this weekend is what we worked so hard for last season and we have worked hard in pre-season to make sure we are ready.

“There is probably no bigger game than playing Boro who are the favourites for the division.”

Boro have been busy in the transfer market over the summer, the £5.5m signing of Stewart Downing from West Ham a sign of intent.

Grayson doesn’t want his side to be intimidated by such figures, preferring them to concentrate on their task of settling into the league.

“Certain teams in the division are having a right go but there are not loads of clubs spending money like Middlesbrough have done,” said Grayson.

“Everyone has the ambition to get out of this division but you have to cut your cloth accordingly.

“Middlesbrough are trying to give themselves the best opportunity by spending money on very good players.

“But at 12 o’clock on Sunday, it comes down to 11 versus 11, it is a chance for our players to test themselves and make them realise what they achieved last season.

“For us, the first port of call is to make sure we stay in the division.

“We have ambitions to do well. If we work hard every game, show the quality we’ve got, together with the same spirit and desire of last season, we’ll see where that takes us.”

Summer signings Jordan Pickford, Marnick Vermijl, Greg Cunningham and Will Keane are all in contention for their competitive debuts.

Season ticket holders are asked to take their ticket books to all home matches, as voucher numbers will be chosen at random this season.