PNE ready to be Brighton rockers

Tommy Spurr will return to the PNE side at Brighton
Tommy Spurr will return to the PNE side at Brighton
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Simon Grayson has urged Preston to relish the challenge of facing the Championship’s top four clubs over the next fortnight.

The Lilywhites make the trip to Brighton tomorrow as they resume action following the international break.

With Huddersfield, Norwich and Newcastle to follow, it is a tough run of fixtures to say the least.

PNE boss Grayson says it is a challenge to meet head on, and he is encouraged by results against the division’s leading clubs last season.

They collected points off all of the top six, beating three of the clubs.

Grayson said: “You have got to play everyone at some stage so you might as well get these out of the way in October.

“When the fixtures came out, we looked at this run of games and obviously knew it would be tough.

“You would certainly have expected Norwich, Brighton and Newcastle to be in the top six, if not higher.

“Huddersfield could be seen as the surprise package but bearing in mind how well they played at times last season, I’m not surprised to see them doing well.

“We will embrace this run of games and approach them in the right way.

“Last season we played well against the top teams and got some good results.

“We will take belief and confidence from that and go and enjoy these occasions.

“In the next couple of weeks we will play in some big stadiums with big crowds and big atmospheres.”

North End will be without left-back Greg Cunningham who serves a one-match ban for collecting five bookings.

Tommy Spurr is the natural replacement, his last slice of competitive action being against Barnsley last month.

“Greg has had five bookings, one or two of which were for dissent and so a little bit needless,” said Grayson.

“You can’t stop players being booked for making tackles but you can stop dissent.

“Greg has now got to sit this one out but we’ve got Tommy Spurr available, who will come into the squad.”

The game comes too soon for Jermaine Beckford, Aiden McGeady and Marnick Vermijl, who all have hamstring injuries.

Said Grayson: “We have been without Jermaine and Marnick for a few weeks and they are making progress.

“Jermaine had a bit of a setback 10 days or so ago but not a major one.

“They won’t be available for the weekend but are getting really close.

“Aiden pulled out of the Republic of Ireland squad with a hamstring injury and stayed with us.

“It is not a really serious one, he will be out for the weekend but hopefully we will have him back very soon.

“Alan Browne was back here on Monday after international duty and has trained all week, while we will meet Bailey Wright at the hotel down there when he lands back from being with Australia.”