PNE will look to find the right right balance for tonight’s cup game

Marnick Vermijl
Marnick Vermijl
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Simon Grayson will balance a desire to progress in the Capital One Cup with the need to avoid injuries for Preston North End’s Championship campaign in his team selection for tonight’s visit to Crewe

The trip to Gresty Road falls ahead of the league clash with MK Dons which takes priority in the grand scheme of things.

However, PNE manager Grayson is eyeing a place in the next round of the cup so will not go overboard with changes to the side which performed so well against Middlesbrough in Sunday’s opener.

A couple of the team which faced Boro will sit this evening out to rest knocks, while one or two could be held back for the MK Dons game.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “It is a fine balance.

“Since I became a manager I’ve not been one for really changing the team much for the second game in.

“Players are still getting up to match speed, still working on partnerships.

“There will be changes because one or two players got knocks on Sunday and if anyone is in doubt then we will leave them out because we want them ready for Saturday.

“There is no getting away from the fact that Saturday is more important than Crewe but we want to win tonight and go through to the next round.

“We want to keep our momentum going and want to play one of the big hitters.

“Whoever comes into the side I fully expect them to do a good job because we have got a group here who have all played a big part for us.

“They have played a lot of first-team football, I’m not talking about bringing in kids to make their debuts.”

Grayson is likely to give new boy Marnick Vermijl a start in order to continue his integration into the team.

Vermijl made his debut in the Boro game just three days after signing on loan from Sheffield Wednesday.

Chris Humphrey and Jordan Hugill, who both came on as substitutes on Sunday, could both be in line for starts.

Whatever XI plays at Crewe, Grayson wants to see the same level of organisation and work rate shown against Boro.

“The lads carried out the game plan we asked them to which was great to see,” said Grayson.

“Our work ethic from first whistle to last was excellent, we saw forwards chasing back.

“Chris Humphrey tracking back across the pitch right at the end probably epitomised how much we didn’t want to get beaten.

“In the build-up we worked hard on our shape.

“It was a surprise to Boro, speaking to their staff after, that we played with a 3-5-2.

“They didn’t realise we had played it a lot last season and we didn’t use it much during pre-season.”

Grayson says he is still open to adding to his squad but will not just take anyone to increase the numbers.

He said: “There are a couple of areas where we could do with an extra body in.

“We are not going to bring people in for the sake of it, they have to fit in with us.”