PNE on Wembley trail

Anthony Elding
Anthony Elding
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Graham Westley says it is focus and hard work as oppose to dreaming which will edge Preston North End further down the road to Wembley.

They take on Bury at Gigg Lane in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern quarter-final tonight.

If North End can negotiate a way past the Shakers, they would be just three games from Wembley - the semi-final and a two-legged area final.

But Westley refuses to look any further ahead than the short visit to Greater Manchester.

“We just have to concentrate on trying to win the next game,” said the PNE manager.

“I know the road to Wembley because I’ve been there twice as a manager.

“It’s a good venue to reach but you don’t get there by dreaming, you get there by doing.

“You get there by doing the job which needs doing, so our focus is only on beating Bury.

“If our game is right, we will be okay.”

Westley expects tonight’s game to be much different from North End’s last visit there in September when they beat Bury 2-1 in the league.

They’ve appointed Kevin Blackwell as their manager since then, the former Leeds and Sheffield United boss inspiring an upturn in results.

Said Westley: “Bury have had one defeat in nine games.

“They have a new and experienced manager who is a nice guy as well.

“He has really established a solidity to their play which was missing previously.

“We have been there and won this season, so we know how to do it.

“But we haven’t won against Kevin Blackwell’s side and he will be telling his lads that.

“He has instilled a different work ethic, they are a more competitive outfit now who are playing okay.

“We’ve only had one defeat in nine, with four wins, four draws and a defeat.

“It’s a decent run we’re on and it’s up to us to build on what we have been doing.”

In terms of team selection, Westley will try and strike a balance between consistency and introducing some freshness.

He’s unlikely to make wholesale changes and has to bear in mind the JPT rules about selecting six players who played the previous game or who will feature in their next match.

Anthony Elding returns to the squad, the striker having been cup-tied against Gillingham on Saturday by reason of an appearance in an earlier round for parent club Grimsby.

Goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann will keep hold of the gloves after impressing on his recall to the side.

Westley said: “Freshness is something I have to think about.

“We have to make sure the players have a hunger and a reason to win the game.

“On the night we have to make sure there is enough freshness, desire, passion and urgency to do the job.

“We have a big squad and could delve into the depths of it.

“But we’ve got to remember that we’ve held some consistent selection together when achieving the results we have been doing.”