Grayson aware of Leicester’s threat
Town boss Simon Grayson will come up against a familiar foe in Leicester City when they visit West Yorkshire for Tuesday night’s 7.45pm kick-off.
Grayson spent five years at Tuesday’s opponents as a player in the mid-nineties and admits it was probably the pinnacle of his playing days – but is looking to ruin their evening come match day!
“My time at Leicester as a footballer was good for me,” Simon told htafc.com. “Three weeks after leaving my old club I was playing in front of 90,000 at Wembley in a Play-Off Final! We had three finals on the trot and finally won the third, but then we were relegated from the Premier League; we went straight back up via the Play-Offs again and then the following year we won the Carling Cup as it was.
“It was a great period of time and is a part of my history – but that’s all. However, there is no greater feeling than beating an old club and that’s what I’ll be trying to do on Tuesday night.”
Grayson watched Tuesday’s opponents in the flesh recently and knows his side are in for a stern test.
“Leicester are one of the favourites for the division – and rightly so when you look at the money they have spent and the squad they’ve accumulated. Their squad has good Championship and even Premiership experience and when I watched them at Hull the other week they played well.
“When you have players like that in their squad, they should be up in the top half of the division – but with that comes pressure. They have some talented players; over the last few weeks (David) Nugent got a hat-trick against Hull and Jamie Vardy has settled in very well following his move from Fleetwood, but right through the team they have great experience and we’ll have to produce a performance to get the result.”
The Foxes are an established Championship outfit and Grayson believes they are a decent benchmark for Town to work towards:
“In terms the structure Leicester are still in front of us because we’ve not been in the Championship for too long. However, our training ground is progressing – just like theirs will have done in the past.
“We get around 15,000 every week whereas they get 25,000, but that’s not to say we’re not trying to get to that sort of level. Why can’t we? We’re competing on the pitch with these teams and we’ve shown already that we can mix it with the big boys, whilst we’re striving to drive all other aspects of the Club forward day in, day out. Things have moved on dramatically behind the scenes in the last four to five months.”
Town’s Manager was quick to praise Chairman Dean Hoyle for the massive part he has played in the Club’s recent progression:
“I don’t think you get too many better Chairmen than the one I’m working with at this moment in time. Dean is passionate about the area and the Club; he’s a supporter and he’s given me full backing to try and achieve what I want to. He is a joy to work closely with – he has big ambitions.
“We’ve not finished the season yet, so we’ll see what we achieve come the end. We’re just looking to enjoy every moment at the training ground and on match days, but the one thing you have to do is work hard and then hopefully you’ll get your reward.”
Loan striker James Vaughan missed Saturday’s game against Watford with a groin strain and Simon explained he is touch and go for Tuesday’s match:
“I’m not going to give too much information away, but we’ll assess James ahead of the game. He’s had a niggling groin problem over the last couple of games before Saturday and it hadn’t settled down from the Blackpool game; we’re hoping it has settled down now and he’ll be available for selection.
“If he doesn’t make it, we have other players waiting to come into the team that will replace Jermaine from the weekend.
“I think, looking at our squad, that we’re not trying to do anything more at this moment in time. That can obviously change though.
“We have two games before the international break and we have players we are hoping could be available for Tuesday and if not Saturday at Birmingham.
“‘Lynchy’ (Joel Lynch) is still suspended for Tuesday; Adam Hammill is making good progress and will not be too far away just like James Vaughan and when we have a full complement of players, I will have a problem deciding who to pick. I’d rather have that problem as opposed to a lack of choice!”
With Vaughan potentially sidelined and loanee Jermaine Beckford not allowed to play against his parent club Town’s forward options are slightly depleted, but the in-form Lee Novak drew praise from the Manager:
“He’s a good player. I picked him on a regular basis when I arrived at the football club and he put in some grafting performances, with goals as well. He got his opportunity this year and he has taken it again, so I’m delighted we have him; he’s part of the squad and will play large parts in our season.
“All our strikers have something different and we are trying to get that mixture and balance in our formation and selection policy. Lee is one of a few good strikers we have on our books.
Another man pushing for a starting position is Alan Lee, who scored in an impressive cameo from the bench on Saturday.
“I’ve never seen a player be changed and ready to go on the pitch when you tell them to get ready – it must have been a world record! He has so much enthusiasm.
“He might just rough somebody up or score from a ball into the box and fortunately that happened on Saturday – we just couldn’t then hold onto it. I keep stressing that we need different types of players and we know Alan isn’t going to beat centre halves for pace, but he’ll hold it up and knock it down for somebody in good areas. He’s great in the dressing room too.”
Get your ticket for Tuesday night’s game online and print it at home – click HERE