Preston North End manager Simon Grayson is only concerning himself with the club’s next game – a trip to Fulham in the Championship tomorrow afternoon – rather than looking further ahead into the latter stages of his team’s season.
The Lilywhites’ play-off aspirations have been boosted in the last few weeks after sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday suffered back-to-back defeats, meaning Grayson’s men lie just six points behind the Owls who currently occupy the final play-off spot.
Victory would see North End leapfrog the Cottagers and Norwich City so Grayson isn’t contemplating any other permutations in the division.
“We can’t affect what’s happening in all the other games and that will be the same from now until the end of the season,” explained Grayson.
“We’re playing teams in and around us obviously and that’s going to play a large part in dictating the rest of the season.
“Regardless of the three games, there are still going to be a lot of twists and turns because I’m sure there will be some people that are working out who X, Y and Z have got to play and who is going to pick up points here, there and everywhere.”
Grayson emphasized how they are just going to take each game as it comes and not worry about outside pressure too much.
“We just have to go to Fulham at the weekend to try and get the three points, do the recovery and then get ready for the Derby and Reading games,” he said.
“Individually and collectively the performances have been very good and let’s just keep seeing where it takes us.
“There’s no real pressure on us to get there (the play-offs) but there’s pressure from what we want to try to achieve as a team ourselves.”
Fulham are the closest side to the current top six, sitting seventh after 33 games with 53 points – five behind the Owls – but the Lilywhites are just a point worse off having played one game extra.
Grayson, who recently celebrated his fourth year as PNE manager, is wary of the threat Slavisa Jokanovic’s men will pose at the weekend.
He added: “I think they’re probably one of the best teams in the league in terms of keeping the ball and the threats that they’ve got up front.
“They’re doing a lot of good things and hence why they’re in the position that they are, so we know we’ve got a real tough game.
“We’ve got to be aware of them but we’ve worked on certain things to try and nullify that affect as well as areas where we think they’re a little bit weak.”
Regardless of a potential play-off push North End will be hoping to gain a positive result with thousands of supporters set to travel down to London as part of the club’s annual ‘Gentry Day’ fixture.
With fans set to don bowler hats and suits as part of the celebrations of the lives of past fans and players Grayson is hoping his side can emerge with another positive Gentry Day result after triumphing against rivals Bolton Wanderers in last year’s game.
He said: “3,000 Preston fans are going to be down there so hopefully it’s a good day for us like last year when we got a great result at Bolton and everybody connected with the club enjoyed it.
“When I first came here I didn’t know anything about it so four years on you get to understand it a little bit and what it means to the supporters who run it and are connected with it.
“It’s a great way of having something unique in football connected just to this club and ultimately it would make it an even more special day if we could get a result.”
Ben Pearson is available for the Lilywhites after being kept out through injury in last weekend’s win against QPR, but Marnick Vermijl, Tyias Browning, John Welsh, Alex Baptiste and Callum Woods remain absent for the trip to Craven Cottage.