Joe will bid to burst Cod Army’s net
WITH League One and Two taking centre stage this weekend because of the international break, I’m really looking forward to covering Preston’s visit to Fleetwood Town for Sky Sports this afternoon. It’s the first time they’ll have met at Highbury in the Football League and could well be the start of a new rivalry.
As a former Preston player, our rivals were Blackpool and Burnley. We used to play Fleetwood in pre-season. That shows you how far they’ve come.
You’ve got to give everyone at Fleetwood huge credit – they’ve had an incredible rise over the last ten years. They would need something special to get in the play-offs this time around, but they’ve done brilliantly to even be within touching distance.
I had two spells alongside current Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander at Preston – and he’s a great leader.
Perhaps it wasn’t clear when I was there the first time that he was going to go into management, but second time around it was pretty obvious. It was later on in his career and he was doing a bit of coaching.
I’m delighted to see him doing so well in management and it’s great that he’s already got a promotion on his CV. He sets high standards and commands respect.
He’ll be expecting a tough game against Preston and it’s a great opportunity for my old club this weekend. With Swindon and MK Dons not playing due to international calls, second-placed Preston can increase the gap on their promotion rivals.
One man who the Cod Army will have to keep a close eye on is Joe Garner, pictured right, who hit a hat-trick against them earlier this season. A Preston fan, it wasn’t until his 18th game that he scored his first goal for the club – but he’s certainly more than made up for that ever since.
His goals could make the difference in the end and, for me, one of his biggest attributes is his ability to find space in the box.
That’s one of the hardest things to do because you’ve got defenders whose job it is to stop you – and it’s a lot easier to stop goals than score them. His movement is excellent and more often than not he will hit the target – and the back of the net.
We’re into the crunch part of the season now and as a player you want to be going into these games with something to fight for.
From the first day of pre-season you’ve grafted to put yourself in a position to achieve something and this is what it comes down to. This is when you can seize your reward for the effort you’ve put in.
At least Preston and Fleetwood are looking upwards. No one wants to be down near the bottom of the table at this stage.
I remember one season at Preston when we were bottom on New Year’s Day, but stayed up with two or three games to spare.
At that end of the table, it’s more of a feeling of relief than success.We didn’t have a celebration, but there was a feeling that we’d worked hard for that.
You want to look after your own results and make sure you’ve got no regrets when the final whistle blows.