PNE boss hails show of strength

Tom Clarke got the only goal at the Pirelli Stadium
Tom Clarke got the only goal at the Pirelli Stadium
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Simon Grayson felt his Preston North End squad proved their strength in depth with a battling win at Burton Albion.

The PNE boss made four changes for the 1-0 victory, which came just 48 hours after the New Year’s Eve draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

Bailey Wright, Alan Browne, Eoin Doyle and Jordan Hugill all came into the side as Preston edged a game that was far from a classic.

“That’s what we’re about, we’re a squad group,” said Grayson.

“It’s a squad game, we’re a good tight-knit group and people who come in want to do well for themselves and the football club.

“That was the case today. It just shows the strength in depth we’ve got.”

Wright’s name was the one that leaped off the team sheet, the Australian having been left out of the squad altogether against the Owls as his future remains up in the air.

He impressed in place of Alex Baptiste however, Grayson having always insisted he had a role to play even as his contract runs down.

Elsewhere Paul Gallagher, Aiden McGeady and Simon Makienok all dropped to the bench.

“I like to think people know I’m quite an honourable bloke who doesn’t tell lies and play mind games,” said the PNE boss.

“I always said that while Bailey’s at the football club he’s got a chance to play and that was the case.

“Baptiste couldn’t play two games in three days, Gallagher and McGeady have been out for a few weeks. Jordan came in for Simon Makienok and Doyle and Browne did a fantastic team job.

“We’ve dug deep and it shows what the players are about.”

Injury prevention was certainly at the forefront of Grayson’s mind with Gallagher and McGeady, who impressed against Sheffield Wednesday, only coming on as late substitutes at the Pirelli Stadium.

“We knew it was going to be a battle and a scrap so the players we went with probably helped us in that respect,” he said.

“As the game went on we knew it would open up more and Gallagher and McGeady could have an influence.

“We had to think about their injuries too.

“People will be surprised they were left out but those two were never going to play, even before the game at the weekend.

“We had to be sensible about it and it paid off.”

Captain and match-winner Tom Clarke filled in at right-back with Marnick Vermijl having pulled up injured in training on New Year’s Day.

There was no place in the squad for Dundalk duo Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle.

The former was ill, with Grayson believing the pair need more time to get up to speed having only had a few training sessions.

Tom Barkhuizen was on the bench, however, after his move from Morecambe.