Preston North End boss Simon Grayson has admitted that there is no pressure for the club to reach the Championship Play-Offs this year, as they visit Blackburn Rovers tomorrow in what will be a hotly contested Lancashire Derby.
The Lilywhites six points outside the Play-Off zone – it could have been seven points had Fulham defeated North End’s opponents this weekend.
But a 94th minute Lucas Joao header saw Rovers travel back up the M6 with a point, and extended Tony Mowbray’s unbeaten run with the club since he joined last month to six games.
Grayson is under no illusions to the challenge that Rovers pose, but admits three points are crucial if his side are to challenge for the post regular season games.
“It’s a big game for numerous reasons,” said Grayson.
“It’s a derby match, but ultimately it is about the three points we are trying to get to claw the gap back on any other team who manages to slip up.
“I have mentioned that there is far more pressure on the teams above us and one or two that are below us because they have to be within the Play-Offs or around the Play-Offs because of their budgets and the demands of their football clubs.
We have a free hit at it and if we manage to get there brilliant but if we don’t then we have still had a fantastic season.”
Grayson has bigged up his former employers – who are still only one point outside the relegation zone – for their form over the past month.
“I think they have done very well and they have had some great results,” exclaimed Grayson.
“To go to Fulham and get a draw was a great result along with drawing against Norwich last weekend.
“Tony (Mowbray) has come in and obviously the players have taken to his ideas.
“Tony is a good football man and it’ll take time to implement his ideas fully.
“He will just want to make sure they do enough to get to the summer with Blackburn still in the Championship next year.”
Meanwhile, Grayson has admitted that he would like to keep Aiden McGeady beyond the end of the current season.
McGeady is currently on loan from Everton, but the North End boss is keen to do a deal with the Merseyside club to keep the Republic of Ireland international for next season – and potentially beyond.
“I think Aiden has made it quite clear that he would like to try and stay,” said Grayson.
“The problem is that he has another year left at Everton.
“We will do as much as we can to try and ensure that he is a Preston North End player next year.
“There are different ways of doing that – like I said – he has a year left, do we go and sign him on a long-term contract or do we try and get him on another season-long loan?
“Negotiations and talks will go on, and we will be foolish not to ask the question to Everton.”