DJ back on song for PNE

Daniel Johnson in action for PNE at Reading on Saturday
Daniel Johnson in action for PNE at Reading on Saturday

Simon Grayson felt that Daniel Johnson was back to his best in Preston North End’s midfield against Reading.

DJ scored the late winner at the Madejski Stadium and was instrumental in PNE’s play throughout the 2-1 victory.

The 23-year-old had gone off the boil in recent weeks, and was dropped to the bench for some of the games during April.

Restored to the team in a more attacking role, Johnson shone at the weekend.

North End boss Grayson said: “I thought DJ did very well at Reading, he was back to what he does best.

“We felt playing him in that No.10 role behind Jermaine Beckford would suit him.

“He caused them problems, carried the ball well and of course got the goal.

“You have to remember that DJ is still young and is still developing.

“He has been up and down recently, as all our players have been at various points.

“On Saturday, he showed what a good player he is.

“During the course of the season, DJ has played well, it is just over the last couple of weeks that his form dipped.

“That happens with all players, especially younger ones.

“A lot of young players have moments when they have to go out of the team and DJ has had his time on the bench.

“He is our leading scorer remember, which shows what a good season he has had.”

Johnson is on nine goals for the season, eight of them in the Championship with the other coming against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup. The victory at Reading was North End’s first since beating Blackburn on April 2.

Grayson now wants to finish with a flourish against his former club Leeds at Deepdale on Saturday lunchtime.

“The players can be very proud of what they have done this season,” said Grayson.

“We want to finish off by winning against Leeds and getting as high up the table as we possibly can.

“As a club, we are always trying to improve and take things forward.”

Double player of the year winner Greg Cunningham is an early doubt ahead of the weekend.

The defender suffered a calf muscle injury during the Reading game.

A similar problem kept Tom Clarke on the sidelines against the Royals.

Cunningham was voted player of the year by fans and also collected the players’ player of the year gong from his team-mates.

Said Grayson: “Tom felt his calf in training on Friday and it was more of a precaution to leave him out.

“Greg was injured after he went up for a header, he felt something go when he landed.

“I think Greg will be more of a doubt than Tom for the Leeds game.

“But we will give Greg every opportunity to get himself fit and play on Saturday.

“Greg has been outstanding this season and a great way for him to end it will be for him to be in the team against Leeds.”