Grayson relying on strike duo

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:18

Grayson relying on strike duo

Grayson faces a Wembley conundrum as he bids to become the first manager to steer Preston to promotion via the play-offs, reporting a fully-fit squad heading into his side’s 63rd game of the season.
Several starting places are still up for grabs, but Beckford and Garner will spearhead his attack and the club’s bid to finally succeed in a play-off at the 10th attempt could hinge on his in-form goalscorers.
“There’s obviously going to be some players who have contributed immensely to this season so far who are going to be disappointed,” Grayson said.
“One thing you can guarantee is Garner and Beckford will be up front and Sam Johnstone probably in goal.
“One or two other players will be ready as well, but there’s certain areas we still need to consider.”
Preston have come unstuck in six previous play-off semi-finals – they lost out to Rotherham last season – and three finals.
In contrast, Grayson knows the route out of League One well following promotion success with Blackpool, Huddersfield and Leeds.
“It’s going to be who handles the day,” he said. “Who handles the occasion, who has that little bit of luck here and there and who takes their chances when they come along.
“That will ultimately win you the game.”
Beckford struck three of Preston’s goals in their 4-0 aggregate win against Chesterfield in the semi-final, including his stunning effort in the second leg at Deepdale, while Garner scored the other and also fired a hat-trick against Swindon in April.
Swindon are hoping to atone for three straight play-off failures themselves – in 2004, 2010 and 2013 – but could be without skipper Nathan Thompson and Andy Williams, while midfielder John Swift (calf) is doubtful.
Thompson (hamstring) has been undergoing oxygen therapy and striker Williams has a thigh problem.
Manager Mark Cooper maintained his composure during Swindon’s roller-coaster semi-final against Sheffield United.
Swindon won 7-6 on aggregate after a thrilling 5-5 draw in the second leg – the highest scoring play-off in history – but Cooper admitted he could lose his cool if the Robins triumph at Wembley.
“I’m quite calm,” he said. “I very rarely lose my temper and I’m not sure the players would respond to that.
“It’s important I keep calm and transmit to the players that it’s okay if they make a mistake. That’s fine. They’ve just got to concentrate.
“I’ll try to remain calm. I watched Bristol Rovers (in the Conference play-off final) and saw their manager at the end, and I thought that was fantastic.
“That’s when you can lose your calmness – at the end, when you know you’ve done it.
“I don’t mind losing mine at the end if we win.”

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