PNE to step up intensity

Will Hayhurst
Will Hayhurst
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Preston North End’s build-up to the new season will intensify this week with the players facing three pre-season friendlies in four days.

The trio of matches kicks-off this evening at Bamber Bridge, with trips to Halifax Town tomorrow and Morecambe on Friday to follow.

It is a busy spell which PNE manager Simon Grayson says is an important stage of the build-up to the new campaign.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “At the moment it is about getting plenty of game time into the players.

“The lads have had a really good solid base of training since we reported back.

“In that time we have got a lot of groundwork into the players and now we want to get as much football work into them as possible.

“I’m pleased with how we have done so far and it is all about making sure we are right to start the season.”

Tonight’s game is the annual visit to Brig (7pm) and a decent-sized crowd will be inside the newly-named Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

Neil Crowe’s side should provide a decent work out for North End, and Grayson sees the game as an important part of the pre-season programme.

Said Grayson: “It is good to play this game and we know that is an important fixture for them as well as for us.

“The gate receipts can stand them in good stead and there will be a lot of fans who have an interest in both clubs.

“I have no problem with going to Bamber Bridge and Chorley.

“These games are a big part of what we do and I think it is important that we have good connections with the clubs in this area.”

Grayson might quite not use the number of players tonight which he did in the friendlies against Chorley and Liverpool.

He fielded 23 players during the course of the Chorley game and 24 for Liverpool’s visit to Deepdale on Saturday.

With three games so close together it will be a chance to give some of the squad a longer run-out than the 45 minutes they have been getting.

There will be another chance for Will Hayhurst to shine, the Longridge winger having caught the eye since returning from last season’s loan spell at York City.

Paul Huntington’s fitness will be assessed, the defender having suffered a suspected fractured wrist against Liverpool. Lee Holmes and Kyel Reid definitely miss out because of injury.

Grayson said: “Lee pulled a pectoral muscle doing some weights which was unfortunate for him.

“We should have Jack Ryan in contention, he returned to training on Friday.

“Kyel Reid is making good progress but we are not going to rush him, he has to be right.

“He has to see the specialist before starting training and I think that appointment is in 10 days or so.”

Grayson passed himself fit to return to the dugout against Liverpool having had surgery to repair a damaged cartilage in his knee last week.

He said: “I kept getting up and down from the bench on Saturday so I think I’m okay.”

Admission is £8 adults, £5 concessions and Under-12s are free accompanied by a paying adult.