Welsh is PNE’s unsung hero

John Welsh
John Welsh
  • Grayson pays tribute to unsung hero Welsh
  • Midfielder gives flair players licence to express themselves
  • Former Liverpool and Tranmere star gives defence protection
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has labelled John Welsh an unsung hero in the Lilywhites’ winning run.

The limelight tended to fall on others as PNE strung together five victories on the bounce in February.

ask him to tackle, sweep things up and organise and he’ll do those things.

It is a sequence which they will be hoping to extend into March when Doncaster visit Deepdale tonight (7.45pm).

Welsh has been playing a holding midfield role in front of the back four, one which Grayson thinks is giving the North End attacking players a platform to build on.

He is also giving protection to a defence which has kept five successive clean sheets

Grayson told the Evening Post: “It might be John goes a bit unnoticed by some people because of the role he plays.

“However, you ask the other players around him and they really appreciate what he does for them.

“John has done everything asked of him. With the system we are playing we need that type of player to protect and do the simple things.

“You wouldn’t ask him to hit 60 or 70-yard passes because that is not his game.

“But ask him to tackle, sweep things up and organise and he’ll do those things.

“He is getting a run of games which perhaps in the early part of the season he wasn’t.

“Earlier in the season we were changing systems and personnel a bit.

“We need players like John to help our flair players.

“He allows Paul Gallagher, Daniel Johnson, Callum Robinson, Chris Humphrey and Joe Garner to express themselves in the attacking department and win games.”

The target for North End this evening is a sixth straight win to maintain the pressure on MK Dons and Bristol City above them.

Bettering MK Dons’ result against Chesterfield this evening would see them go above Karl Robinson’s side ahead of their visit to Buckinghamshire on Saturday.

The focus tonight is strictly on tackling Doncaster though, a side who moved into sixth place at the weekend.

Said Grayson: “It is no point worrying about what other teams are doing, we just have to concentrate on what we do.

“You can’t affect matches which are being played hundreds of miles away.

“Okay, you cannot get away from the fact that straight after a game you look at the other results but it is ultimately about what you do.

“If we work hard as a team, play as a team and do the right things, we have a good chance of beating anyone on our day because of the players we have available here.

“Should we slide away from that and play as individuals, we will get undone.

“If we keep winning games and win the next 14, we will be promoted, simple as that.

“Of the three teams around us, we have to play two of them at home and one away.

“But all the other games are just as important, Doncaster is as important as MK Dons on Saturday because there are only three points available.”

North End will run a fitness check over Tom Clarke today, the skipper having missed the 4-0 victory at Oldham with a head injury.

Grayson said: “Again it will be in the hands of the medical department and doctor to decide if Tom plays.

“Scott Wiseman came in at Oldham and helped us keep a clean sheet.”

PNE keeper Sam Johnstone will face a Donny side for whom he played 14 games earlier in the season.

Johnstone was recalled by Manchester United in January in order for him to be loaned out to North End.

PNE’s football special train to MK Dons has sold out, the last of the 450 seats going yesterday morning. Coach places are still available.