Top two still our aim, says PNE star

Kevin Davies
Kevin Davies
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Kevin Davies has stressed the importance of Preston North End’s clash with Yeovil tonight in terms of staying in the race for automatic promotion.

PNE have gone three league games without a win and have slipped off the pace in terms of keeping up with top two Swindon and Bristol City.

The West Country pair have opened up an eight-point gap between themselves and the Lilywhites.

That will come down to five if Simon Grayson’s men can see off bottom club Yeovil at Deepdale (7.45pm).

A victory would also edge them back up into third place above MK Dons.

Davies, 37, could well earn himself a recall to the starting XI after being on the bench until the closing stages of the 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient on Friday night.

That 84th minute cameo was the 800th appearances of his career for club and country.

“This game is a chance for us to close that gap, put that pressure back on the sides above us,” Davies told the Evening Post.

“If they have a bit of a blip or wobble then we need to be in a position to take advantage of that. We don’t want the size of the gap to increase, so our mentality and performance needs to be spot-on tonight.

“It is not rocket science, we know what we have in the dressing room and what our strengths are.

“We need to play from a good shape and get back to what we do best.

“After the Orient game there was a lot of frustration and disappointment which you would expect.

“We were back in training on Sunday and the session was an excellent one.

“The training was high tempo, with the manager and his staff having everyone up for it.

“There seemed to be a real determination to put things right, the session we did was a very sharp one.

“I came off the training pitch raring to do, as did all the other lads.

“We followed that up with a session yesterday when we worked on a few things.

“There is no time to sulk after a poor result, the focus has to go on the next game which is against Yeovil.”

With 21 matches to play and 63 points up for grabs, this is not the time when promotion slots are decided.

But more points dropped now would give North End a bigger mountain to climb as the games are ticked off.

Davies said: “There is no room for error and we need to get another winning run going.

“We want to get into that top two, not just be around it, win the league if possible.

“The first-half of the season we enjoyed with some good wins in the league and cups.

“We’ve got a big week with this game followed by the FA Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, hopefully we can start it off with a win.

“It might be that we have to scrape wins at some point, grind results out.

“Before these last three games we had been really hard to beat and kept a lot of clean sheets.

“I think it was eight wins in 10 games with seven clean sheets which was good going.

“We had that really strong determination to win games and while we have not knocked off that, we need to get that belief back.

“The goals which we have conceded just recently have not been like us in terms of being a bit soft.

“We need to get back to being really hard to beat and I’m sure we can do that.

“Earlier in the season we had a blip similar to this which we came through and went on a really good run afterwards.

“So we have shown that we are capable of going on strong runs, of bouncing back.

“After tonight, we have got the two cup games coming up.

“Hopefully we are going into the Sheffield United tie on the back of three points.

“Walsall after that is a game in which we will be looking to turn the deficit around.

“The rest of the week will be determined on what we do against Yeovil. “We will not under-estimate Yeovil, we have never done that to any side.

“Leyton Orient had been struggling but they came here on Friday and started well.

“Yeovil had a good win over Bradford on Saturday which we have noted.

“But it will be about how we perform, if we reach the levels we have shown many times this season then we have a good chance of winning.”

While Davies reached the landmark of 800 games before the weekend, he is still waiting to reach another in terms of his 150th career goal.

He has been stuck on 149 for 12 months now, the last time he found the net being against Coventry last January.

The long wait might be very frustrating for him but Davies is still loving the challenge which his move to Deepdale has provided. Davies said: “I’m enjoying it this season as much as I did last year. I might not have played as many matches but it is good to be around the squad and be part of that.

“It is nice to have played some games recently and I want to help the team get promoted. Hopefully we can do that this season.”