Jermaine back in the frame for PNE

Jermaine Beckford could be back in the North End squad tonight
Jermaine Beckford could be back in the North End squad tonight
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Preston North End supporters will have to wait until the teamsheet is read out tonight to see if star striker Jermaine Beckford is back to full fitness.

The former Leeds United forward – who scored a hat-trick in last season’s League One play-off final – has not kicked a ball in competitive action for North End since that memorable day at Wembley in May.

A knock picked up in pre-season has ruled the 31-year-old out of the team’s first three games of the campaign.

The Lilywhites have not appeared to miss Beckford’s influence too much so far, having collected a draw and a win from their opening two league games against Middlesbrough and MK Dons respectively.

And a passage through to the second round of the Capital One Cup was safely negotiated thanks to a 3-1 win over Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road.

However, the sight of Beckford’s name appearing in the PNE squad would provide a huge tonic for everybody connected with the club.

But Grayson was remaining tight-lipped as to whether that could happen for this evening’s trip to Rotherham United for a Championship encounter.

“Jermaine is making good progress,” Grayson said.

“But I’m not going to give any more news about him until you see his name on the teamsheet.

“Like I say he is making good progress, but whether he is fit for tonight or Saturday, you will have to wait and see.”

Beckford is not the only injury concern ahead of this evening’s trip to the New York Stadium.

Saturday’s goalscoring hero Paul Gallagher limped off late in the second half at stadium:mk after tweaking his groin, while loanee Marnick Vermijl missed the game with after picking up a knock.

“Gally came off injured on Saturday and one or two others got knocks,” Grayson said.

“Marnick might be back but that’s a little bit debatable.

“It’s all part and parcel of football at this early stage of the season when you have a lot of games and you pick up knocks.

“We will give everybody the best opportunity to be fit and hopefully we will be able to put out a team that is capable of getting a result tonight.”

Meanwhile, Grayson is not getting too carried away with his team’s start to the season.

North End have adapted well to life back in the Championship and will be fancied to pick up their second league win of the season against Rotherham, who have yet to register a point.

“It’s a very pleasing start for us,” Grayson said. “We have been pleased with the way the players have performed, but we are not getting carried away because we are only three games in.

“It’s a good platform to build on. We wanted to try to carry on the momentum from last year and we have got to carry on doing the things that we have been doing.”