Season to be jolly for PNE

Preston right-back Scott Wiseman will face his old club Barnsley
Preston right-back Scott Wiseman will face his old club Barnsley
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Simon Grayson has urged his Preston North End players to keep up the good work as the season approaches the halfway mark.

The Lilywhites host Barnsley at Deepdale today (3pm), this the last home match of 2014.

It is quickly followed by the trip to Crewe on Sunday which brings up the mid-way point of the League One campaign.

PNE boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “I can’t ask any more of the players.

“It has been a really busy schedule over the last couple of months with a lot of away games.

“We have produced some fantastic performances and results.

“The lads have been very consistent over the last 12 months and we want to push on to go one step further.”

Although North End stayed in fourth place after their 1-0 win at Peterborough last Saturday, they closed the gap on leaders Bristol City to just one point.

MK Dons and Swindon are on the same number of points as Grayson’s men, then there is an eight-point gap down to Sheffield United in fifth.

Grayson will have a strong squad to choose from over the next couple of games.

He is expected to stick very closely today to the side which beat Peterborough.

However, the depth of the squad does provide options to fresh things up for Crewe 48 hours later if needs be.

Said Grayson: “At this time of the year, the players have to keep their focus when it is holiday time for many other people.

“Playing at Christmas is part and parcel of this job – they get plenty of time off in the summer instead.

“When it comes to using the squad over these games, you have to find a balance between making too many changes and keeping the team fresh.

“Whoever I put in for the Barnsley game and then on Sunday at Crewe, I’m sure they will do a good job.

“Over the last few weeks and months, players have come into the team and taken their opportunity.

“When it comes to playing games close together, players don’t get tired if they win.

“If we were to beat Barnsley, I’m sure all of them will want to play against Crewe.

“After this game, I will sit down and analyse things with the medical department to see if we need to change anything.”

North End right-back Scott Wiseman is set to face his former club today.

He joined from Barnsley in January after two-and-a-half years at Oakwell.

Kyel Reid also had a loan spell with the Tykes earlier in his career.

Barnsley boss Danny Wilson will be overseeing his 1,001st game as a manager and is someone admired by Grayson.

He said: “Danny is someone I hold in high regard – to have had 1,000 games as a manager is a huge achievement.

“Barnsley have a good mix of young lads and experienced campaigners.

“They can be a real threat and had a good result last week in beating Leyton Orient.

“We respect the opposition but our focus is on the work that we do.

“We want to win as many games as possible, home or away. We know where we want to get to.”