Humphrey ready to shine on big stage for PNE

Jamaica international Chris Humphrey's pace could be crucial at Wembley
Jamaica international Chris Humphrey's pace could be crucial at Wembley
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Chris Humphrey will be hoping for third time lucky at Wembley when he goes there with Preston North End this weekend.

The Jamaica international played in two play-off finals under the arch for Shrewsbury Town in 2007 and 2009.

He was on the losing side both times, so is chasing a better outcome in North End colours against Swindon.

“The first time I played against Bristol Rovers in the League Two final, the second time we played Gillingham,” Humphrey told the Evening Post.

“It was a great experience to play at Wembley but unfortunately we lost twice.

“Hopefully it will be third time lucky on Sunday and we achieve what we set out to do.

“I’ve got close friends and family going down – it will be their third time watching me so fingers crossed, it can happen for them too.

“To win the final and be playing Championship football next season would be brilliant for the club and Preston as a city.”

Humphrey, like all of his North End team-mates, is under no illusions about the size of the task awaiting them in North London. Swindon spent the majority of the season in and around the automatic promotion places, only fading in the last month and having to settle for a fourth-place finish.

With the Lilywhites dropping out of the automatic picture on the final day, it is two very strong teams going head-to-head.

Said Humphrey: “We all watched their semi-final tie against Sheffield United the other week.

“It was a great game to watch from a neutral point of view – very exciting.

“Swindon score a lot of goals, they play with a formation which is hard to defend against.

“We will have to be ‘on it’ for the whole game and switched on to what they are about.

“The gaffer has got a few different formations we can play, different things up his sleeve.

“He is a manager who has been there and done it – he knows what it takes.

“It is good to have that experience and all the lads are looking forward to it.

“Whatever team the gaffer picks has to go out there and do the business, and work hard from the first whistle through to the last.

“It is a massive pitch at Wembley which will test everyone out.”

Humphrey says North End’s approach to Wembley has very much been ‘busy as usual’.

Tickets and suits were sorted last week to enable a full focus on the football for much of the fortnight’s gap between the semi-final second leg and the final.

“The lads are refreshed and raring to go,” 27-year-old Humphrey said.

There has been a lot of excitement around Preston and the club, while we have tried to keep it business as usual in training.

“We have come in, done our work and the gaffer has done things like he has all season.

“It is quite a long time between the semi-final and final but that is something we cannot control.

“What it has allowed us to do is to get a bit of extra rest in between all the training.

“We have played a lot of games this season with the runs in the FA Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

“The gaffer has planned the two weeks well and hopefully that will serve us well in the final.”

Humphrey has 56 appearances for Preston under his belt this season, scoring five goals.

He featured in both league meetings against Swindon in November and April.

Should Simon Grayson decide to match up Swindon’s 3-5-2 system, there is every chance that Humphrey would start at Wembley in the right wing-back role.

The use of a flat back four in a 4-3-3 which Grayson has also used of late, might mean him having to settle for a place on the bench.

But his pace is likely to be used at some stage, with the length of the Wembley pitch certainly suited to Humphrey’s work rate on the right.