PNE trying to strike the right balance

Simon Grayson believes Preston's approach to tonight's clash with Huddersfield will be something of a balancing act.

Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 7:57 pm
Paul Gallagher could return to PNE's team against Huddersfield

As the home side, Grayson recognises the onus is on the Lilywhites to get on the front foot and attack.

But they will need to be aware of the visitors’ style of play, which is based on plenty of possession and pressing.

PNE boss Grayson ran the rule over his former club – he managed them for 11 months between February 2012 and January 2013 – on Sunday against Sheffield Wednesday.

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He watched the Owls grab a 1-0 victory, one which denied Huddersfield the chance of regaining top spot in the Championship.

Grayson said: “Last season, two of our hardest games came against Huddersfield.

“They put us to the sword at their place and then made it very difficult at Deepdale.

“We saw last season the signs of how they like to play football by closing down and pressing the opposition.

“What has changed this season is that they have become a bit harder to beat.

“They gave goals away last season but haven’t been doing that this time, hence them having been at the top of the table for quite a while.

“I went to watch them on Sunday and we know what we will have to do to get a result.

“They will probably have the ball more than us – against Sheffield Wednesday, they had 66% possession.

“That shows the philosophy they have of wanting to keep the ball, to be patient.

“At the top end of the pitch they then have three or four players who are lively and want to hurt you.

“We have to show a degree of patience – that is not easy when you are the home team and the focus is on you to take the game to them.

“We’ve got to get the right balance between wanting to impose our game on them but being aware of what they will want to do – Huddersfield like to find gaps if you leave yourself vulnerable.

“But they are not invincible, they have a few faults which we have looked at – we have players who can hurt them.”

John Welsh signed a new contract with PNE yesterday, agreeing terms on a one-year deal which extends his stay at Deepdale to summer 2018.

The midfielder faces the next couple of weeks on the sidelines though, the legacy of a calf muscle injury sustained at Brighton on Saturday.

Grayson has a few options to replace him in midfield, with Paul Gallagher one of them.

Gallagher came off the bench to set up the equaliser for Simon Makienok against Brighton.

“I’m delighted John has extended his stay because he’s a fantastic member of the squad,” said Grayson.

“We will be without him for a period of time with this injury and it gives someone else an opportunity.

“Paul Gallagher is back now, Alan Browne was on the bench at Brighton, while Liam Grimshaw can play there.

“The centre of midfield is quite a strong area for cover.”