PNE ready to move up a gear

Confident: Graham Westley, pictured during the defeat at Orient last Saturday
Confident: Graham Westley, pictured during the defeat at Orient last Saturday
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Preston North End are ready to overcome their ‘blip’ at Leyton Orient when they return to action today in the FA Cup against Gillingham at Deepdale (3pm).

And manager Graham Westley is confident his players are ready to move up another gear.

Orient’s win over PNE was their fifth on the bounce, and it is that sort of run which the Lilywhites boss wants to mirror.

Westley said: “Our form in the first 12 games of the season improved over the next 12 games and I’m sure we will go into the next phase of 12 games and find another level.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the team can do and I think they are ready to teeter over the edge and become a winning side.

“Confidence is growing, there is a desire to succeed for the club.

“When you manage a football team you see three distinct phases which a side goes through.

“You’ve got a phase which is a losing one, that might be measured by fitness, mentality and spirit.

“There is then the competitive stage where people start to want to win – there is a little bit more coming out of them.

“Then comes the winning stages – that is where people have made up their mind that they are going to win and nothing is going to get in their way.

“By this stage there is much more noise and expression about people, the training ground is a more fierce place.

“I’ve seen our training ground become a competitive place, things have changed no question. And I’m starting to get the feeling that a winning place is around me.

“We will put wins together. That might start in our next league game or two or three down the line.

“When a team of mine gets to the top of the form league with five or six wins on the trot, I know we are in business.

“Every good team I have managed has done that. They go bang, bang, bang and suddenly we are in position.

“As the pace gathers, we will be the type of side which won’t buckle and will just get stronger.”

Part of Westley’s preparations for the games ahead – today’s Gills clash is followed by Tuesday’s JPT visit to Bury and then next Saturday’s home league meeting with Crewe – has been a review of how North End will operate without Scott Laird and Keith Keane.

Laird is out for the season with a broken leg and Keane had cartilage surgery on his knee this week which will rule him out for three months.

He said: “It’s not just about replacing them one for one.

“You can’t ignore what their absence takes out of the side, you’ve got to take into consideration the whole structure. But we have enough good players to get it right.”

l PNE are giving ambassador season ticket holders the chance to make big savings in the club shop.

Next Friday, between 8am and 8pm, they are knocking 30% off everything in store for their ambassadors on production of their season ticket book. They will also get a free gift for signing up to the ambassador scheme.