Changes on cards for PNE

Simon Grayson could well change a winning team when Preston go to Birmingham tonight as he makes full use of his squad to get through the busy run of games.

Tuesday, 27th September 2016, 6:40 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:05 pm
Daniel Johnson is in contention for a place in PNE's team at Birmingham

Grayson has chopped and changed to keep the players fresh of late, and it could very well be that the side which lines up at St Andrew’s will be different to that which beat Wigan on Friday night.

A couple of players collected knocks against Wigan, Paul Gallagher being one of them.

So there might be a change of personnel and shape in midfield for starters.

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There were times during the Wigan game when the Lilywhites engine room got out-numbered, which will be food for thought ahead of the clash with a Birmingham side who have started the season well.

North End boss Grayson said: “We have a couple of knocks from the other night. Gally came off and we have been assessing him.

“We have used the squad widely in the past week – the lads who came into the side on Friday did well.

“Other lads who came off the bench did well, while the ones who played at Bournemouth have now recovered from the 120 minutes there.

“It gives us the option to change personnel and shape if we need to do that.

“I think we have always been flexible here in terms of the players, they know they have to be ready to come into the team at any time.

“At the moment we are on a demanding run of games and you have to be careful with people. You have got to be a little bit proactive and aware of preventing injuries, rather than just reacting to things.”

Ben Pearson, Daniel Johnson and John Welsh are strong contenders for midfield, should changes be needed.

All three impressed at Bournemouth a week ago, with Pearson and Johnson coming off the bench to good effect in the Wigan game.

Awaiting PNE in the West Midlands are sixth-placed Birmingham, a side beaten only once in Championship action this season.

Said Grayson: “You know what you are going to get with Gary Rowett’s teams, they will be organised and hard to beat.

“They have some good options if Clayton Donaldson comes back in, while they have got Lukas Jutkiewicz on loan from Burnley and Che Adams who they paid more than £1m for from Sheffield United.

“We had two decent games with them last season which both ended in draws.

“Birmingham are a good example of what you need to be consistent.

“They are never out of games and always asking questions of the opposition.

“This season they’ve had some decent results.”

North End will be backed by around 800 fans in the away end tonight.

Many of them have taken advantage of the free coach travel laid on by PNE’s main sponsor 888sport.

Twelve coaches have been filled.