Double time for PNE boys

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Preston North End boss Graham Westley admits he will have to drop his ‘one game at a time’ approach over Easter.

With two games in 48 hours, the Preston boss says there has to be an element of forward planning.

Planning ahead: Graham Westley

Planning ahead: Graham Westley

North End host MK Dons at Deepdale on Saturday, a big crowd expected as the city celebrates Sir Tom Finney’s 90th birthday.

They then have to dust themselves down for Monday’s visit to Westley’s former club Stevenage.

That will be the club’s first ever trip to Broadhall Way.

Westley said: “We have to be mindful of the physical factor.

“You have to take the big picture into account when you play back-to-back games as close as this.

“Normally I’d be saying, ‘Just think about the game ahead’ – but you are having to think about the two games.

“You have to think of both selections for both games – in a way you are managing two sets of players – the Saturday players and Monday players.

“Stevenage will know how I’m thinking because, obviously, I used to be there.

“They played yesterday so have the extra 24 hours of recovery.

“But that’s not something I’m going to worry too much about.”

Westley should have Danny Mayor available for the Easter games. The winger has been missing through injury since the win at Exeter three weeks ago.

It must also be hoped that the free midweek has given Thorsten Stuckmann sufficient time to recover from the back problem which hindered him at Sheffield Wednesday. The keeper was lacking his usual spring and movement, which was evident with Wednesday’s opening goal.

While a run of just two wins in Westley’s 16 games in charge has got supporters sweating over North End’s League One status, the PNE boss insists that he is looking up the table.

That’s something of a bold statement bearing in mind three or four more points are still required from the last six games to banish relegation fears.

Said Westley: “Looking at the table I don’t think like a lot of people do. I’m looking at the table and thinking if we can finish in the top 10.

“I’m conscious of what has gone on before – 10 points in 15 games before I came in and then we struggled our way to five points in my first seven games.

“After that we took seven points from the next seven games, which was a slight improvement.

“If we follow that improvement trend we could get nine or 10 points from our last few games.

“That wouldn’t be enough for the top 10, but we might take more points.

“There’s a lot which this team can add to itself.

“This week I have seen a lot of people come out of themselves, take a lot more responsibility for the team and their own performance.

“Those are the characteristics I have been looking for since I’ve been here.

“Just this week at a team level, there have been developments.”