David Buchanan says the make-up of Preston North End’s defence in recent games underlines how a team can evolve over the course of a season.
The back line which has kept clean sheets against Bristol City, Yeovil and Shrewsbury is much changed from that which started the campaign.
Lilywhites manager Grayson has opted for a quartet of Scott Wiseman, Tom Clarke, Paul Huntington and Buchanan at the back, with keeper Thorsten Stuckmann recalled recently.
Clarke was the only one of that number which started the season – him, Calum Woods, Bailey Wright and Ben Davies was the chosen back four then.
Injury and form have been behind the changes, and the current defence has a settled looked about it.
Left-back Buchanan told the Evening Post: “This back four and goalkeeper have kept three clean sheets.
“It is important to get little partnerships going in different areas of the pitch.
“Football is very much a squad game now and a team will change as the season goes along for various reasons.
“Everyone here wants to play, we compete hard during training to try and get a place.
“Ultimately, the manager can only pick 11 players and you have to keep yourself right while you wait for a chance.
“When I was out of the side, the manager told me to keep fighting for my place and that I would definitely get a chance at some point.
“He was true to his word and I got my chance in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie against Shrewsbury in September.
“Since then I have played every league game and I think I’ve been doing well.
“If you are playing well, you keep the shirt. If you don’t, there is someone waiting to come in.”
After the 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, PNE turn their attention back to League One this weekend.
MK Dons are the visitors to Deepdale, Karl Robinson’s side level on points with North End but a place higher in the table by goal difference.
Buchanan said: “We have this clear midweek and then a massive game on Saturday.
“It is important that we try and take points off the teams around us – we did that against Bristol City and it would be great if we could do so when we play MK Dons.
“They will be coming here full of energy, they like to pass the ball around.
“Hopefully we can get the right result and move above them in the table.
“Their away win at Sheffield United last week took them up to third place but if we beat MK Dons we go above them.
“When you play a lot of games in quite a short space of time around Christmas, that is when the league table really starts to take shape.
“We want to stay around that top two or three and then push on with a good run.”
l A Santa Dash around PNE’s ground is taking place on Sunday afternoon, 2.30pm.
It is being organised by the Heartbeat charity, with full Santa outfits provided upon registration – entry is £10 per adult and £5 per child – that includes a drink and mince pies afterwards.
Contact Heartbeat on 01772 717147 for registration.