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Johnson's selection dilemma

8 April 2013

Manager mulls over options for Preston


Lee Johnson admits he has plenty of options at his disposal as he prepares for tomorrow's npower League One Lancashire derby at Preston North End.

Latics' manager (pictured) revealed that 27 players trained today with Lee Croft the only absentee as he received further treatment for the foot injury which kept him out of Saturday's home defeat by Carlisle United.

He said: "It is almost the ones with the best mindsets that can deal with the pressure in this situation who need to play and perform.

"I have picked a million teams and worked on things today in training, but I am still not sure what the best route to go down is.

"We will assess a few little niggles and make a decision on them and go with that tomorrow."

Johnson says he does not know what to expect at Preston whose 3-0 home win against Scunthorpe United on Saturday virtually guarantees their League One status.

He explained: "Sometimes it can benefit them as they are not pent up and are able to play with more freedom.

"I know Simon Grayson and he will want to finish as high as he possibly can in the league."

Johnson says he is looking forward to testing himself against a manager of the experience of Grayson.

He believes they have the best of both worlds going from Graham Westley’s regimented and physicality to the good man-management skills of Grayson.

Johnson believes Preston, who have lost only twice in the nine games since Grayson was appointed manager, will be dangerous opponents who are on good form so they have to make sure they are ready.

"They will have players who are playing for their futures, as are ours, so we must make sure we don’t take them lightly and play the game before it is actually played," he continued.

Johnson is focusing on the positives from Saturday saying he was encouraged by the second-half fightback which followed a hugely disappointing opening period.

"After watching the DVD, it was better than I actually thought it was at the time," he explained.

Johnson was mystified why things went so horribly wrong in the opening period saying preparations for the game had gone well and the team had looked bright and sharp in the warm up.

He said: "It just wasn't quite there which sometimes happens in football.

"I have played in a lot of games in my career when you cannot put your finger on why things went wrong.

"To be fair, the players responded to a half-time grilling. We did well in the second half and probably should have come away from the game with at least a draw.

"If we had two halves like the second one, every punter would have gone home really happy.

"We are where we are for a reason. We can turn up and be majestic or not as was the case in the first half on Saturday."

Johnson added having a derby at Deepdale tomorrow is a great game to have to put Saturday’s disappointment behind them.

He says he was philosophical about the defeat saying it is now a test of his qualities to turn the side round.

Johnson continued: "I have been in football a long time and I am never going to have a managerial career when I never lost a game.

"Funnily enough when my dad went into Bristol City he had nine losses on the spin. I said to him how did he deal with that because I was feeling sick after one loss."


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