Grayson salutes PNE fans

Preston fans turned up in their numbers for the United cup tie
Preston fans turned up in their numbers for the United cup tie
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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson is hoping Deepdale can experience an atmosphere like the one against Manchester United, more often in the future.

PNE’s home ground was packed to the rafters with 21,348 fans as the Red Devils visited in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday night.

Grayson conceded the magnitude of the club’s opponents was the major reason behind the sell-out crowd.

But he is hoping some of the fans who swelled the attendance against Louis van Gaal’s men will return to Deepdale again this season.

The highest league attendance so far this term is 13,793 for the 1-0 Boxing Day victory over Barnsley.

That toppled the 13,280 who turned up against near neighbours Fleetwood Town in October and was slightly higher than the 13,363 for the last home match against Coventry City.

By and large, crowds at Deepdale have ranged between the 8,000 to 11,000 mark but Grayson is hoping a few more come through the gate for today’s visit of Scunthorpe United.

“Everybody realises there’s not going to be 20-odd thousand there again today,” Grayson said.

“Monday night was the attraction of the FA Cup and who we were playing.

“We’ll have our hardcore supporters there today and if we manage to get one or two people back then so be it.

“We just want to make sure we give the sort of performance that they can take encouragement from.

“Hopefully they will back us as much as they can do and as they have done. I thought on Monday night it was a really fantastic atmosphere.

“They backed the players from start to finish. Even when United’s third one went in they still applauded the players and cheered them on.

“I think we have always said that it’s a two-way thing. The supporters need the players to give them a lift and vice versa at times.

“Hopefully we can kick on this season and if a few hundred or thousand come back then that will be great.

“I will never complain about the numbers we get both home and away. They always give a real good account of themselves and we want them to keep coming back – as many as possible.

“And ultimately we want to give them something to cheer about come the end of the season, especially for the hard-earned money that they are spending with us.”

Meanwhile, Grayson revealed one or two clubs have enquired about the possibility of taking Jordan Hugill on loan.

The strapping centre-forward has been out of action since September after suffering a serious knee injury away at Walsall.

After undergoing surgery and months of rehabilitation, the 22-year-old is close to full fitness.

He has played two full reserve-team games, including scoring twice against Fleetwood in a 2-2 draw this week.

“He’s worked hard but he’s probably going to be a little bit longer than Joe Garner was,” Grayson said. “He’s a thicker-set lad and his recovery might not be as quick as some of the other lads.

“But we’ll have to see how he is on a daily basis.

“We might have the option of loaning him out to get him some game time with another club for a month or so.

“I will only do that if I think it’s going to benefit us and Jordan.

“We have had enquiries from one or two clubs but we have to make sure we keep the majority of our squad together, given the amount of games we have got.”