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Friday, 4 April 2014

The Inside Line: Preston North End (05/04/2014)

City's game with Preston this weekend has taken on a whole new level of interest following the arrest and subsequent bailing of six of the North-West club's players. Presumably the bailing means all are free to play, but North End boss Simon Grayson surely faces a tricky task to decide if they're going to be mentally fit to take to the field after such a traumatic 48 hours.  

The incident could cause on of two reactions, the one City fans fearing most being a resolution from the eleven players selected to prove their worth and be even more doggedly determined than usual. 

Stu Radnedge caught up with a hugely busy Lancashire Evening Post reporter, Dave Seddon, who managed to find a few minutes to answer his questions.

Preston seem to have almost secured an extension to their season with the playoffs looming. Would you agree and what has gone so right for North End this season?
Fortunes have turned around completely from when Simon Grayson took over in February last year. He inherited a side low on confidence and physically worn out after the previous manager's training regime.

He guided them to safety last season and his sensible approach has got North End going in the right direction. Steadily he has brought his own players in, while keeping a core of the squad he inherited. One more point and they are in the play-offs and there is still an outside chance of automatic, although the odds are against them.

Preston have been in the play-offs on eight occasions without gaining promotion! Who do you expect as opposition should you reach the play-offs and do you think you will you make it to Wembley?
I hope we don't need the play-offs and can get automatic! As you say, our play-off record is terrible so fans are a bit nervous. I wouldn't be surprised if North End played Orient in the semi-finals.

Would promotion be a good thing for the club at this stage or might you benefit from build for another year in League One and hope to contest automatic promotion?
I honestly think the club would be fine if they got to the Championship this time. They would need to add to the squad but I could see them being competitive. Getting back up would of course boost the finances which is so vital these days.

If promotion isn't achieved, can you predict some of the players will become targets for Championship sides?
I'm sure some would be targets. Joe Garner has scored 23 goals so I would think clubs would look at him. We have Declan Rudd on loan from Norwich and Paul Gallagher from Leicester, and being in the Championship would give us a better chance of keeping hold of them.

How's Neil Kilkenny getting on? Has he made an impact since he joined?
Kilkenny has done fine for us. He scored his first goal for us the other week against Peterborough. Clearly some clubs suit some players more than others, and it seems Bristol City didn't suit Kilkenny. He's got a role at North End where he drops deep to get the ball and is able to influence play with his passing.

Has this season transpired in a way that you, and other fans, predicted at the end of last season when you finished 14th in League One?
After a strong finish to last season - they only lost three games in 14 under Grayson - I think the expectation was to challenge for the play-offs Maybe they are a little bit ahead of where some expected.

Are you confident ahead of the visit to Ashton Gate? What do you think of the Bristol City squad currently?
North End's away form has been strong this season, so hopefully we can get something at Ashton Gate. Looking at the City squad, the front three of Baldock, Paterson and Emmanuel-Thomas have goals in them. I'm surprised that they have been down the wrong end of the table.

And finally, can I please ask for a score prediction?

I'll go for a 1-0 Preston win!

My thanks to both, but Dave especially for finding some time amongst the mayhem to answer these questions.  

The Exiled Robin

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