Ross no stranger to PNE boss

Ross McCormack is Fulham's top scorer with 11 goals this season
Ross McCormack is Fulham's top scorer with 11 goals this season
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Simon Grayson will be able to give his Preston North End players a decent analysis of Fulham hitman Ross McCormack ahead of Saturday’s visit to Craven Cottage.

Grayson signed the Scottish striker when he was Leeds boss and spent 18 months working with him at Elland Road. Strike ace McCormack joined Fulham for a whopping £11.5m in July last year and has stayed on the goals hunt in West London.

Last season, he netted 19, this term the 29-year-old has 11 to his name.

North End boss Grayson said: “I know Ross really well from my time at Leeds.

“They paid £400,000 for him and he left for £11.5m, which was not a bad bit of business.

“Ross is a good lad, a good footballer, I know his strengths and weaknesses.

“Sometimes when your players are up against people with a big reputation, it can inspire them to up their game.

“We’ve had that in recent weeks with Charlie Austin and Jordan Rhodes, two top strikers who I thought we handled well.

“We did our defensive duties really well against those two.”

Fulham are the division’s top scorers with 30 goals from their 17 games.

But at the other end they have shipped 29 goals – the second worst defensive record in the Championship, with only Rotherham conceding more.

Said Grayson: “Fulham are a very attacking team and are the leading goalscorers in the division. But they have conceded a lot of goals.

“Like a lot of clubs, they want to get back to the Premier League.

“Obviously, we know a lot about McCormack and they have a young striker in Moussa Dembele who is catching the eye.

“They have a squad which is capable of getting into the top areas of the division.

“But I’m sure on Saturday they will realise they are up against a good side in ourselves.”

French teenager Dembele has scored eight league goals and one more in the Capital One Cup.

His talents are reportedly being eyed by clubs in the Premier League.

Dembele, 19, was on target in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw away to MK Dons.

Before that, the Cottagers had lost 3-1 to Burnley and 5-2 at home to Birmingham, that dip costing head coach Kit Symons his job.

Fulham are in 12th place, seven points off the play-off pace.

This is their second season in the Championship after relegation from the top flight in May 2014.

With ex-PNE keeper Andrew Lonergan sidelined by a hamstring strain, Joe Lewis will be in goal for Fulham.

Lewis said: “It’ll be a very tough game. Preston are a good club and the manager has done really well there.

“There are no easy games in this league.

“Defensively they’ve been strong this season and we’ve been good going forward.”