Paul Raynor talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Assistant manager Paul Raynor needs no introduction to Rotherham United’s League One Play-Off opponents Preston North End.
Steve Evans’ trusty lieutenant is a big favourite with the Deepdale support and only two seasons ago played in a legends game for the Lancashire club whom he served so favourably during his playing career.
After two draws with his former side already this season Raynor knows the Millers will be in for a tough examination and agreed with manager Evans that the Lilywhites will start as outright favourites to win the play-offs.
"The Gaffer and myself have watched Preston on a number of occasions this season and it has to be said they are very strong in every department,” Raynor told www.themillers.co.uk
"I had a fantastic time at Preston as a player, some real great memories including the play-offs at Deepdale. Preston is a very big club for League One and they have a superb support but what comes with that will be a huge expectation for them to win promotion to The Championship via these play-offs. The supporters at Deepdale will be demanding that they are promoted and given the size of club they have every right to be like that so I suppose all the pressure is on them.
"When you look in detail at the squad that Simon Grayson has been allowed to assemble this season it demonstrates some good investment but we know it will not come down to that when we play them twice in this semi-final.
"The Gaffer here has a lot of respect for Simon Grayson and his staff, we all know they will be fully prepared for the matches with us. On Saturday they will also have the backing of almost 30,000 fans inside Deepdale so that also has its advantages but having played for those Preston supporters they will also be demanding of a top class performance.”
Raynor is now fully focused on preparing the Millers for Saturday’s first leg at Deepdale, stating that the players will be ready for what promises to be a pulsating double-header.
"Our lads will be prepared and hopefully we will be fully focused. The players themselves will need no motivating; they all know we are playing a team full of quality players.
"We are a team that has just got promoted from League 2 and at the start of this season we were on many peoples list to perhaps get relegated, but that was never going to happen with Steve Evans in charge. Our squad of players have a great togetherness about them, a real desire to win matches, a great team spirit and we must never forget that has got us into these play-offs.
"I accept we will have to be at our very best in two matches to beat Preston for a place at Wembley. I accept it will take some doing but yes we can do it. If I didn't believe that what would the point in all of us fighting all season to get one of these play-off places.
"We will take a good support with us and as always they will give us the best vocal backing there is. Our supporters have done us proud all season and never for one minute does The Gaffer allow anyone to forget the part they play. Come Saturday we will be involved in another big match and that is why two years ago we joined Rotherham United."