Simon Grayson felt the performances of Preston’s strikers in the win over Oldham offered encouragement for the season ahead.
The Lilywhites manager started with a front three of Eoin Doyle, Simon Makienok and Callum Robinson at Boundary Park clash.
They were replaced by Joe Garner, Jermaine Beckford and Jordan Hugill for the last half-hour.
Doyle found the net in the first half, with Garner scoring twice in the 3-1 win.
Grayson told the Evening Post: “The front three in the first half combined well.
“Callum showed what he is capable of doing, he still has to believe in himself more but that will come.
“I thought Simon did well again, he had a great header in the first half which hit the post.
“Simon has good technique, he holds the ball up well and is a different option for us.
“You know what you are going to get with Eoin – he gets into good areas, links-up play well and has a great work ethic.
“His goal was good, Callum did well in the first place to get the ball and drive on. He found Simon, who had the awareness to pick Eoin out, who produced a good finish.
“It was not an easy finish – with the ball coming across him like it did, he had to open up his body.
“We know that Eoin can finish because we have seen him do it against us and also a few times for us last season.
“It was nice to see the strikers scoring because it is something we have to work on from last season.
“Overall, the combination play and shape of the team was very good.
“We stepped things up at Oldham, in terms of players getting longer on the pitch.
“The aim was to get a few of them through 90 minutes and others 60 minutes.
“Against Stoke on Saturday, we will give some of the others a longer run-out, the ones who came on as substitutes.”
Grayson had four players missing at Oldham – Tommy Spurr, Liam Grimshaw, Ben Pringle and Ben Pearson.
Then there was the loss of Calum Woods early in the game to what looked like a bad knee injury.
“Tommy Spurr is making progress after rocking his ankle at Chorley. The swelling has gone down,” said Grayson.
“He is running on the Alter-G machine we now have at the gym, so we are getting some good conditioning work into him.
“Tommy might be in and around the Morecambe game on Tuesday or maybe at Bolton after that, we will wait and see.
“Ben Pearson and Ben Pringle had slight niggles from training and Liam Grimshaw’s knee was slightly swollen.
“We are at the stage where we want to get plenty of work into the players but if any of them have niggles, there is no point making things worse.”
North End are continuing to assess Woods’ knee injury, with ligament damage feared.
He was hurt in a block tackle with Oldham’s Jamie Reckford and could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.