Super sub Cal aims for PNE start

Callum Robinson's reward for scoring twice as a substitute in successive games for Preston North End could be a start against Brighton this weekend.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 29th February 2016, 1:23 pm
Updated Monday, 29th February 2016, 2:26 pm
Callum Robinson has scored in Preston's last two games as a substitute
Callum Robinson has scored in Preston's last two games as a substitute

The front man came off the bench at half-time in both the Charlton and Cardiff matches.

Robinson netted the winner against Charlton and then scored what proved to be a consolation in South Wales.

Those goals – and the work he has done on the training ground – have impressed PNE manager Simon Grayson.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Should Grayson opt for an attacking approach on Saturday, Robinson will be at the forefront of his mind.

“Callum has done really well since he came back to us,” said Grayson.

“Over the last few weeks, he has worked hard to build up his fitness and sharpness

“We are starting to see the player we had here last season and he will get more chances over the coming weeks.”

Grayson changed from a 3-5-2 system to 4-3-3 at the interval in the last two games to accommodate Robinson.

Against Charlton, Bailey Wright was sacrificed, with Paul Huntington making way at Cardiff.

While it was unlikely that Grayson would have started him at Cardiff, illness meant Robinson was only fit enough for the bench anyway.

Grayson said: “We didn’t have the option to start Callum at Cardiff because he was ill.

“Paul Huntington came out of training on Friday with a deadleg and was 80% fit, so he was the ideal one to come off when we changed things at half-time.

“We have changed to four at the back at half-time in the last two games.”

Robinson played on the left-hand side of a three with Joe Garner and Adam Reach against Cardiff and Charlton.

Six of his seven appearances since returning to Deepdale on loan from Aston Villa in January have come as a sub.

His one start came on the left wing as Grayson went with a 4-4-2 against Huddersfield.

Grayson has wanted to ensure that Robinson is fully match sharp before using him regularly.

The 21-year-old went three months without senior football between his last game on loan at Bristol City and signing for North End.

While his loan stay with the Robins only ended at the start of January, Robinson had last played in their first team on October 3.

Last season, he had two loan spells with North End – the first from September to November 2014, and he returned in Ferbuary last year and stayed until the play-off semi-finals.

He was recalled by Villa ahead of the play-off final and was on England Under-20s duty the day Preston beat Swindon at Wembley.

After North End’s five-game unbeaten run ended at Cardiff, Grayson is pleased to have a clear midweek ahead of Brighton’s visit.

He felt that three games in a week had caught up with his players against the Bluebirds.

Said Grayson: “We had a few players who didn’t play to their best level on Saturday, we didn’t really have the cutting edge and drive.

“It is not easy playing three Championship games in a week but that is what this division is all about. If you are slightly off your game, you can get undone by the opposition.

“We have got a chance this week to have a breather and get some work done on the training ground.”