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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Davies upbeat over Preston task
By Paul Fletcher

Preston manager Billy Davies is in bullish mood ahead of the play-offs
Our intention is to go to Leeds and get at their defence
Billy Davies
Preston manager Billy Davies believes his squad are in a much better position than last year to win promotion through the Championship play-offs.

North End lost the 2005 final with West Ham and face Leeds in the first leg of this season's semi-finals on Friday.

But Davies told BBC Sport: "I felt that last season we went into the play-offs as a tired team. By the time we reached the final we were a jaded side.

"This year we are much fresher and our current form could not be any better."

Preston travel to Leeds on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run.

And on the final day of the regular season last Sunday, North End beat Leeds 2-0 at Deepdale in what may be deemed a rehearsal match against their promotion rivals.

Davies is confident that his team will travel to Elland Road in an attacking frame of mind.

"It is another game for me - we won't be going to defend," he confirmed.

"The one thing we have got to do is really test the defence of Leeds United.

"Our intention is to go there and get at their defence."

Davies points to his team's superb away record - only four defeats and 18 goals conceded all season in the Championship - as evidence of his team's capabilities.

His return is like a new signing. He is such an asset, such a threat
Billy Davies on David Nugent

Preston also had the best defensive record in the division but Davies believes the return of key personnel at the other end of the field may prove crucial.

"We have a wonderful away record and it will be same again - same training sessions and approach to the game - but now we have added goal threats, with the return to fitness of David Nugent and Marcus Stewart," said the Preston boss."

Stewart has recovered from a groin strain that has kept him sidelined while Nugent made an appearance as a late substitute against Leeds, his return coming less than seven weeks after breaking a metatarsal bone.

"His return is like a new signing," said the Scot. "He is such an asset, such a threat.

"He has come back the way he looked when he first joined the club. He looks very fresh."

Brian O'Neil and Callum Davidson are also fit, while Claude Davis and Paul McKenna were withdrawn early in the game against Leeds to give them extra rest.

Plus, Tyrone Mears is available after missing Sunday's game to witness the birth of his child - and for the first time in an injury-ridden season, Davies suddenly has most of his squad fit and available.

Davies admits it has given him a "massive headache" over team selection but - against a Leeds team "who are struggling to hit the back of the net" - the Preston manager is in bullish mood.

"We go into these games as the form team and we go into them with confidence," said the man who is hoping to take Preston into the Premiership for the first time.

Leeds v Preston
04 May 06 |  Championship


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