PNE still full of positivity

Paul Huntington
Paul Huntington
  • There will be no hangover from Gillingham draw, says Preston boss
  • Simon Grayson still confident of promotion heading into final four games of the season
  • Defender Paul Huntington expected to be fit for Friday night’s trip to Port Vale
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Simon Grayson says it will be a confident Preston North End side which heads into the final four games of the season despite the Gillingham setback.

The Lilywhites remain in the driving seat for League One’s second automatic promotion place, although their lead over MK Dons is down to three points following Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with the Gills.

We are still in a fantastic position, 15 games unbeaten, four games to go and three points clear of third place

It is an advantage which can hopefully be stretched tomorrow night when Grayson takes his side to Port Vale.

Although acknowledging the disappointment of letting slip a two-goal lead on Tuesday, the PNE manager says players and fans should not fear the run-in.

“There is so much positive stuff still going around the place,” said Grayson.

“Yes, we dropped two points against Gillingham but other teams have dropped points over the last couple of weeks.

“We are still in a fantastic position, 15 games unbeaten, four games to go and three points clear of third place.

“So many other teams would love to be in our position and that is the mindset we’ve got.

“Everyone was disappointed the other night – players, fans, coaching staff.

“It would have been fantastic to have got the extra two points but we are in a great position and on a good run.

“There is still a lot of belief about us and we go into Friday night full of confidence that we can finish off what we have started.

“Had someone said on January 31 driving back from Crawley that we would be in this position come April, we would have snapped their hands off.

“If we win four games there is no disputing it, we will be promoted.

“At this stage of the season there can be anxiety in every player, supporter, manager and coach.

“When there is so much at stake, there is bound to be tension.

“What I’d say is that there is a hungry squad here which will be looking for three points at Port Vale.”

Grayson hopes to be able to have Paul Huntington available tomorrow.

The defender has struggled with a back injury since his collision with team-mate Sam Johnstone in the Fleetwood game last month.

He returned at Bradford on Easter Monday but only lasted until half-time after feeling more discomfort.

“Hunts is looking like he could be available for Friday,” said Grayson.

“He could possibly have been involved on Tuesday had we really needed to push him.

“But giving him that extra couple of days recovery should see him back to full fitness.”

Having Huntington fit would certainly be a huge boost, his form having been very good before the injury.

On the casualty front, Scott Laird and Jermaine Beckford will have their fitness assessed ahead of the Vale game after being injured in midweek.

Laird got a knock in the first few minutes but battled on until the early stages of the second half.

The in-form Beckford, scorer of seven goals in the last 10 games, came off with an ankle knock.

Grayson said: “We are assessing them and we’ll see how they are.”