PNE engine room holds the key

Joe Garner, Alan Browne, Chris Humphrey and Paul Gallagher after Miguel Llera's own goal
Joe Garner, Alan Browne, Chris Humphrey and Paul Gallagher after Miguel Llera's own goal
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Simon Grayson is pleased that his promotion masterplan is taking shape after Chris Humphrey fuelled Preston North End’s 4-0 victory over Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park.

PNE boss Grayson was delighted with the ruthless nature of his young side as they thumped the Iron on Saturday.

Humphrey stole the show after stepping in for the injured Andy Little.

Now Grayson is facing a selection headache as competition for places in Tuesday night’s clash against Doncaster hots up.

Little is set to return to fitness for that clash, and Grayson was impressed by the energy of young midfield duo Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill who are thriving on the freedom of the current favoured 4-3-3 formation.

He said: “It was a very good performance.

“The shape was really good and we knew we could hit them on the counter-attack because of the energy we have got in the middle of the park and the wide areas – and obviously we have the clinical finishing of Joe Garner.

“We’ve got a system at this moment in time that allows Neil Kilkenny to get on the ball and dictate and protect the back four.

“The energy of Browne and Brownhill to support Garner is there for everybody to see.

“People might question why we aren’t playing with two players up front all the time but you don’t need them sometimes when you have the energy and the creativity in the side coming from different areas on the pitch.

“I thought we passed the ball well, we were organised, disciplined and when chances came along we were very ruthless in our decision-making and we punished the opposition.

“It was Scunthorpe’s first league game at home. They came at us and we probably played too many short passes early on.

“Jamie Jones made a great save. He tipped Paddy Madden’s shot on to the bar – if that goes in it is a different story but we got the first goal and built from there.”

And after Humphrey’s electric performance, Grayson has urged other players to take their chances. And he hit back at the Jamaica international’s critics.

He said: “We said to all those players who missed out last Saturday against Notts County that there are going to be opportunities and when they come along you have got to take them – Chris came on at Rochdale and did well.

“He played against Blackburn in a friendly match this week and he did extremely well so I had no hesitation to put him in. One or two people sort of have a go at Chris for some of his performances but he is a fantastic team player.

“Today he has had a fantastic performance with the assists but also getting the goal as well.

“We have good competition for places. We are pleased with where we are going and there is a lot of positivity about the place at the moment.”

And Grayson took time to praise Saturday’s two-goal hero Garner for his striking prowess.

He said: “Garner’s first goal was a reaction and the second was a great header off a great ball from Josh Brownhill – Joe just loves scoring goals.

“To be fair to him I was expecting him to claim three – but he said the own goal came off the defender. So he is going away with two when others would claim a hat-trick.”