PNE look for first win under Westley

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'PNE v Leyton Orient at Deepdale'New manager Graham Westley
PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'PNE v Leyton Orient at Deepdale'New manager Graham Westley
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Graham Westley is confident that he’s closing in on his first win as Preston North End manager.

North End return to action for the first time in more than a fortnight when they host Hartlepool at Deepdale this evening (7.45pm).

Westley believes that the extra training time afforded to him by the Brentford and Tranmere games being frozen off will benefit the players in the long term.

And a busy fixture list over the coming weeks doesn’t worry him one bit.

The additional training sessions have helped Westley settle his nine new signings into the squad.

Most of them should be on view tonight, with five having had their debuts put on ice by the recent postponements.

Westley told the Evening Post: “The new lads are looking in good nick.

“They have had a couple of weeks to get themselves together and have been playing some good football in training.

“In many ways I’m glad the Tranmere match was off.

“Sometimes games can come too soon for a new squad.

“The previous week before we should have played Brentford – we’d cobbled a side together in training on the Thursday and Friday.

“Last week the training was good, and we were looking okay as the Tranmere game approached.

“But having the weekend and yesterday to put things together was very positive.

“We got news that the Tranmere game was off just as we were getting on the bus, so we got the match kit on and had a training session instead.

“I suppose the last couple of weeks has been like managing a representative side in many ways.

“We’ve been pulling together these new lads from all over the place and putting a side together.

“I believe in this lot – it wouldn’t surprise me to see them win and win well tonight.

“They are a new team and have to be given confidence and supported by myself and the whole club.

“With that full support, they will respond to the challenge.

“These are lads you can trust and they will kick on and win games for this club.”

With the Tranmere game rearranged for February 28, and Brentford’s visit having a new date on March 27, North End will play 12 games over the next month-and-a-half.

Westley isn’t daunted by such a schedule – in fact it’s one he is relishing.

The PNE boss said: “My teams have always been ones that, because of the endurance orientation in their training, they will kick on when you get to the stage where they are playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday all the time.

“I haven’t been able to put in here yet the bedrock of that endurance training, which I would normally have in place at this stage of the season...but I will do.

“At Stevenage, we won 15 of our last 16 games to win the Conference title, then last season we won nine out of the last 11 to get into the League Two play-offs.

“I love this time of year when the games are back-to-back. I think it’s a really good time to be a footballer.”