Albion's manager discussed the big talking points ahead of Saturday's game.
At his pre-match press conference, Chris Hughton assessed the threat from Preston North End, the progress fitness-wise made by Sam Baldock, Tomer Hemed’s form, the benefits from Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors friendly with Cardiff and Simon Grayson’s qualities as a manager.
Threat from Preston: “They’ve done very well and the signs were there when they played at the Amex. I think they’d won a couple of games before that.
“Ironically, they changed their shape in terms of the way they played just before our game and had success playing it and have more or less kept that shape until now.
“They’ve done really well and it’s always very difficult for a team that’s got promotion to excel in that first season, because of the levels in this division, but they have done very well."
Sam Baldock’s progress: “We certainly rely more on sport science these days; perhaps in the old days, a player would be out for a while and play two or three reserve team games before he came back in.
“Now we can monitor their fitness levels with sports science. We’re able to get players up and ready, but it’s match tempo that keeps you fit.”
Tomer Hemed’s form: “I’m delighted for him, because it’s very frustrating for a player that wants to score goals and for whatever reason, it’s not always happened for him.
“He deserves the credit because he’s the one that’s worked through it and irrespective of what team I pick, he probably wouldn’t have played through that tough period unless he had been working hard for the team.
“I’m really pleased for him, but that’s the life of a striker. You wait all that time for a goal and now he’s on a very good run.”
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Benefits from Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors friendly: “It’s never easy to get friendly games at the time you want them. We’re certainly grateful to Cardiff, but if we hadn’t have got that match then we would’ve played an in-house game anyway.
“Some players played a 90-minute game and some played 60 minutes; it was like a more intensive training session.
“They would have been involved in either a tough in-house game or a harder training session and it really suited them.”
Simon Grayson: "He’s an experienced manager who has been with big clubs and he knows how to work teams.
“They fell on a formula which has very much worked for them and it’s about getting the best out of the players that they’ve got.
“He’s somebody that I know reasonably well and have always had successful and tough teams to play against. At the moment, they’re a very good team.”
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