Boss Simon Grayson has given his Preston North End team a big pat on the back after watching his men make a solid start to the season.
Before the campaign got under way, a few people were questioning whether North End’s current squad could make the step up to the Championship after winning promotion from League One via the play-offs.
But judging by the opening couple of weeks of the season, the players have answered that question very much in the affirmative.
Unbeaten in three league games – not forgetting the 3-1 success over Crewe Alexandra in the Capital One Cup – the Lilywhites have certainly not looked out of place in the second tier of English football.
They were just the width of a crossbar away on Tuesday night at Rotherham from making Saturday’s home encounter against Ipswich Town a possible early-season top-of-the-table clash.
Bailey Wright’s header from Paul Gallagher’s corner late on at the New York Stadium crashed against the woodwork.
It denied North End the opportunity to record a second successive 1-0 away win, following last Saturday’s victory over MK Dons.
Instead, they had to settle for a goalless draw against Steve Evans’ men, but it was another point on the board, which means North End have now got five to their name.
While careful not to appear over-confident, Grayson admitted he has been pleased with what he has seen.“Five points from the first three games – I think I would have taken that,” said Grayson.
“Especially as two of those games were away from home.
“We always knew we would have to be on our mettle from the start of the season and in every game that we are involved in.
“We are not going to get too carried away with our start because it’s still early days.
“But hopefully we will learn again from the game on Tuesday night and take that into what will be another very tough game against Ipswich Town on Saturday.”
The match in midweek was North End’s third successive clean sheet in the league.
Remarkably, it is believed to be the first time in the club’s history that they have begun a new season with three consecutive shut-outs.
The platform for much of North End’s current success has been the three centre-back defensive formation Grayson has employed so far.
Used in conjunction with wing-backs, it is a system the manager has favoured many times over the last couple of years. And it very much suits the styles of centre-backs Tom Clarke, Paul Huntington and Wright, who have formed a strong unit.
“The back three are looking comfortable, but they work hard,” Grayson said.
“They are comfortable with the system which we used a lot last year and the wing-backs are doing a good job of supporting them.”