Sean Gregan’s exclusive column

Derby County's Chris Baird, left, and Preston North End's Joe Garner receive treatment
Derby County's Chris Baird, left, and Preston North End's Joe Garner receive treatment
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Preston North End are having a tough old time of things at the moment, with the defeat to Derby their third loss on the bounce in the Championship

I don’t see the need for panic though, because it is a big division they have gone into and some of the clubs they are playing against are effectively being run on the same level as those in the Premier League.

Look at Derby’s squad, they had Darren Bent as an unused substitute at Deepdale – it was not so long ago that Aston Villa paid £24m for him.

Andreas Weimann was on the bench to start with, he cost Derby £2.5m from Villa and his wages will be high.

Look at Middlesbrough, signing Stewart Downing and David Nugent – both Premier League players and no doubt on Premier League money.

For North End, this season was always going to be about settling in and making sure they stay in the division.

It is the teams battling in and around you, who you need to take points from.

There is no better example of that than Bristol City’s visit to Deepdale on Tuesday.

City have struggled a bit since coming up and it is matches like this which can prove important in the long run.

It goes without saying that North End need to find a few more goals from somewhere.

I feel for Joe Garner who is yet to get off the mark for the season.

It is an often-used saying, but he just needs the ball to go in off his backside to get him up and running.

Garner is a grafter and that will eventually bring him his reward, I’m sure of that.

The harder you work, the luckier you become, and when Garner gets himself a goal, more will follow.

Look at the shot against Derby that hit the post and bounced back into the goalkeepers’ hands.

Last season, that would have gone in for Garner.

I think that having the new lads Stevie May and Eoin Doyle at the club will help him.

Both have a bit of pace, both are lively characters, and they did well when coming on against Derby.

Simon Grayson now has the option of using them with Garner and there is now good competition for places.

When I played, I tended to find that players respond well to competition, they liked having a new face or two about the training ground to work with.

This season is a learning curve for North End and for some of the supporters too.

Promotion in May was the club’s first for some years and it is a new level for players and fans alike to get used to.

The Championship has evolved greatly since North End last got promoted to it in 2000 when I was playing.

With the money being paid out by some clubs and with others coming down from the Premier League with huge parachute money, it is difficult for a promoted team to go into this division and make an impact. It is a steady build, look at Middlesbrough and Derby for example.

Both have actually been in this division a few years and now have started to throw a lot of money at it.

This is not time for panic and criticising North End.

They put five points on the board last month and a couple of decent results will have them pointing in the right direction.

As a club, they have made a lot of progress since Simon Grayson was appointed more than two-and-a-half years ago.

The squad has steadily improved over the last couple of years and that will continue as the season goes on.