PNE trio battle for left-back berth

David Buchanan is one of the options for PNE's left-back role
David Buchanan is one of the options for PNE's left-back role
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Who gets the ‘Yes’ vote for the Preston North End left-back slot will be a major selection issue for Simon Grayson ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Walsall.

The PNE manager has used three players in that role this season – Ben Davies, Scott Laird and David Buchanan.

And all eyes will be on who gets the nod as the Lilywhites resume action following the international break.

Buchanan put in a steady performance in the last game against Shrewsbury 12 days ago – his first taste of competitive action this term.

That could give him the edge for tomorrow’s visit to the West Midlands ahead of Laird and Davies.

Grayson said: “There is strong competition right the way through our squad.

“If people are performing well it makes my job straightforward because I will pick them.

“But if they are not playing to the best of their ability, I can make the decision to change things around and give someone else an opportunity.

“In terms of the left-back position, we have the three lads pushing to play.

“Buchs came in the other week and did a fantastic job.

“We will see who I pick – who knows I might play all three!”

Davies played six of the first seven games but found the going tough in the 1-1 draw with Sheffield United two weeks ago and was substituted at half-time.

The 18-year-old was rested for the Shrewsbury clash and this week played at centre-back in the Lancashire FA Senior Cup tie at Blackburn.

Laird started the Oldham game last month at left-back, with his two other starts coming in a midfield role. There are other selection posers for Grayson, who has a virtually fully-fit squad available.

Bailey Wright has returned from international duty on a high after making his debut for Australia earlier in the week.

He did not feature in the last league game against Sheffield United though, the defender left on the bench to rest a groin injury.

Scott Wiseman and Calum Woods are competing for the right-back shirt, while Kyel Reid will be eyeing a place on the bench after getting more action during the week.

Grayson was delighted to see Wright finally earn his first Aussie cap after a patient wait.

“I was really pleased for him and I’m proud of what he has done,” he said.

“Bailey has come a long way since the suggestion that he was made available two years ago. He has got his head down and worked extremely hard.

“What people forget is that he is only a young lad of 22 and he has got a bright future ahead of him.

“He still has to work hard and, remember, he didn’t play in the Sheffield United game because I felt he needed to rest his groin and because one or two other players had done well and deserved a chance.

“I’ve been telling Bailey that after scoring at international level he needs to get some goals for us!”

With regards to where Reid is up to fitness wise, Grayson added: “Kyel got 90 minutes against Blackburn and is getting close to a first-team return.”