Simon Grayson says 2016 has been a year of progress for Preston and he wants them to finish it on a high note against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow afternoon.
The Owls will provide a stern New Year’s Eve test at Deepdale but it is a challenge the PNE boss is relishing.
“I’ve been really pleased with what we have done this year,” said Grayson.
“Every club up and down the country have blips along the way and others have had bigger blips than us.
“We can be proud of the way we have been moving forward.
“Compared to this stage last year, we are seven points better off and have scored more goals.
“I’m really pleased with the players, really pleased with the people above me and the backing they’ve given me.
“The supporters have been fantastic and what we have to do now is keep doing the right things to make sure that more progress is made.”
Ben Pearson, a player who has come to the fore in recent months and helped carry the side forward, yesterday signed a new three-and-a-half year contract.
The midfielder had 18 months left on his previous deal and PNE were keen to get his long-term future sorted.
Said Grayson: “We try to get our younger players and better players tied down.
“We are a forward-thinking club, always looking to the future and not wanting to leave ourselves vulnerable.
“I’m really pleased that Ben has agreed the new deal, he was desperate to sign.
“He’s got the ability, has shown what he is capable of and now has to keep learning and adapting.”
Grayson expects to have Paul Gallagher back in the fold tomorrow after five weeks on the sidelines with a torn calf.
Aiden McGeady could return too, a calf strain having kept the on-loan winger out of the 4-1 defeat to Leeds on Boxing Day.
Jermaine Beckford starts a four-game suspension for his red card within three minutes of coming on against Leeds.
“I had a long conversation with him on Tuesday morning,” said Grayson.
“He couldn’t have been more apologetic, saying that, he apologised the last time.
“Things can happen in the heat of the moment but as you get older, you should be able to control your emotions more.
“Jermaine has got to think about certain situations, given where he has just come from and how much football he’s missed through injury.
“We have dealt with him internally, he is going to miss four games but there are other actions which have been carried out.
“As a football club we have to act sensibly, players have to be reminded that they cannot be doing stupid things.”
Grayson added: “We move on but we haven’t brushed it under the carpet.
“We have dealt with it and when Jermaine comes back from his ban, he must show everyone the commitment that made him such an icon of this club as such.”