PNE boss uses different formations

Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson
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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson showed fans a glimpse of his Championship blueprint in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Hearts.

Grayson employed three different systems as North End’s focus starts to shift to their opening day clash against Middlesbrough.

With less than three weeks to go until the curtains open on a new campaign, Grayson used the Deepdale clash to try new boy Will Keane just behind strike duo Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner and then changed things up to see how they gelled as a front three.

And the gaffer was pleased with the way his men dispatched the Scottish Premiership new boys.

He said: “This game was all about developing fitness but also using different systems of how we might play overall in the Championship.

“We used three different systems throughout the course of the game.

“We started with a 4-3-1-2 with Will just behind Garner and Beckford, then we went with a 4-3-3 and finished with a 5-3-2. It was a good workout against a good Hearts team. We passed the ball around and had some clever movement.

“We needed to make sure we are disciplined in what we are going to do because we are going to come across some top level opposition in the Championship.”

Grayson thought PNE should have had a penalty and was happy with Keane’s Deepdale debut. He also hailed Garner for his poaching instinct by capitalising on Hearts keeper Neil Alexander’s hashed clearance.

He said: “I’m pleased with Will’s performance. He’s only going to get better. Jermaine is adamant that he got clipped but we will let the referee off with that one. If it was in three weeks’ time I might be slightly more vocal.

“Joe reacted really well and got a good strong header in. The keeper made some good saves in that second half period when we dominated. If it hadn’t been for him we could have had a couple more.”

But despite the victory Grayson is still keen to add to his squad and assured fans he is willing to dip his toe in the transfer market.

He said: “A lot of lads got some minutes under the belt, we obviously still realise we are a little bit short in terms of strength in depth.

“But we are working towards trying to recruit those players.”

Winger Kyel Reid and midfielder Neil Kilkenny missed the clash but Grayson hopes Reid will be back for tomorrow’s game at Southport.

He said: “Kila is struggling with a back spasm and Reidy picked up tonsillitis. It is unfortunate because it would have been nice for him to get some more game time.

“He was back in doing a bit of work on Saturday morning but he wasn’t fit enough to play. We expect him to be back in today and play some part against Southport. We know that if he is fully fit he is going to be a major asset to us.”