PNE boss orders goals, goals, goals

Andy Little (above) can ease the burden on Joe Garner
Andy Little (above) can ease the burden on Joe Garner
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has demanded goals from all over the pitch on the eve of the new season.

PNE will open their League One campaign at home to Notts County tomorrow boasting one of the division’s most prolific marksman in their ranks.

Joe Garner struck 24 times in all competitions for the Lilywhites in what was a wonderful season for him on a personal level.

While thrilled with Garner’s goal tally last term, Grayson is slightly concerned that only one other PNE player reached double figures over the course of the year.

Wideman Paul Gallagher was the nearest to Garner – he notched 10 goals, although six of those came via two hat-tricks.

Defender Tom Clarke was third on the goalscorers’ list with six, while Kevin and Craig Davies had five strikes to their names. Over the summer, Grayson has boosted his strikeforce options with the acquisitions of Andy Little and Jordan Hugill, from Rangers and Port Vale respectively.

But he has challenged more of his men to find the back of the net on a regular basis – and to not just rely on Garner.

Grayson said: “We have tried to add something different to the squad.

“When you look at the players we have recruited, they are all something different.

“We do feel that we have a few more goals in the team than when we started the season last year. It is up to other people not to just rely on Joe Garner – we can’t just do that.

“Other people need to be chipping in as well.

“If Paul Gallagher’s playing – or any wide player like Chris Humphrey, Lee Holmes – they know they need to score more goals. Midfielders and defenders need to contribute too.

“We don’t set individual goal tallies but everybody knows they need to contribute.”

There will be a great deal of anticipation around Deepdale tomorrow, certainly among the home fans, with North End one of the fancied sides to earn promotion to the Championship.

Grayson accepts that high expectation levels come with the territory when you are the manager of a club the size of Preston.

“This is a big football club so you always have to make sure you perform in every game,” Grayson said. “We always try to tell the players not to get too carried away when we are winning and don’t get too down when we lose.

“You are always going to have ups and downs over a course of a season. It’s how you react to those downs and I genuinely believe that we have got a good squad who are ready both physically and mentally for a long slog – and ultimately a successful one”

Although victory over Notts County this weekend is not vital in the grand scheme of things, Grayson knows it will be a huge boost if his men can get the season off to a flying start.

“We want to win our first game as quickly as possible,” he said. “I suppose if you look at Wolves who ultimately went up last year, I don’t think they were flying at the start.

“But obviously we would like to start the season with a victory which would give us a huge boost.”