League One: Grayson’s resurgent Preston ready for promotion bid
Preston North End finished last season in spirited form and their aspirational manager Simon Grayson has set his sights on elevation to the Championship next term.
Long-suffering fans of the Lilywhites have had to see their team toil in League One during the past two campaigns, with former boss Graham Westley’s 13 months in charge at Deepdale proving to be disastrous for the Lancastrians.
A complete overhaul of the playing staff was ultimately both unpopular and unsuccessful, paving the way for the incumbent’s arrival.
Westley left Preston hovering just five points above the relegation zone in February.
Grayson’s immediate task was to stabilise the club, a task achieved with only three defeats in his 14 games at the helm so far.
And the 16/1 shots for the League One title have already started to signal their intent for the impending season.
Defender Tom Clarke has become Grayson’s first signing, re-uniting with the manager he served during the latter’s tenure at Huddersfield Town.
Clarke will help to solidify the spine of a team that already contains players who have the potential to campaign at a higher level.
One of those is Irish youngster Will Hayhurst, who dazzled in 2012-13, scoring 12 goals in 23 games to announce himself as a possible star of the future.
The news that Hayhurst is set to be tied down to a new deal, and the rumoured arrival of out-of-contract Motherwell winger Chris Humphrey – a target for a string of Championship sides – offers plenty of cheer for the Deepdale faithful.
Ladbrokes are offering 7/2 for Preston to be promoted, a price that could easily get shorter should more arrivals continue to pitch up at upwardly mobile PNE.
And with a manager who’s won promotion from League One on three previous occasions it’s not difficult to see why the north-west team are being touted as third tier contenders.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.