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Magic of Cup is still there according to Preston boss Grayson

Simon Grayson has said the FA Cup is still magic. His side, Preston North End host non-league Havant & Waterlooville in the first round, and are odds-on with Coral at 2/5 to progress.

Grayson acknowledged that there is still a certain amount of mystique surrounding the competition, though it isn’t as magical as it was. “I think the FA Cup is probably not as special as what it once was,” he said. “I remember when I was growing up waiting all day on a Saturday for the cup final to come along.

“The whole build-up was exciting. I’ve been to the cup final a few times over the years and seen some great cup ties. I think the Premier League has taken over in terms of the revenue it can bring in and what it leads to, particularly with the Champions League places.

“I know some clubs underestimate it because of the significance of the bigger picture. But think the FA Cup in general is a great competition. You ask any player who is involved in this first round this weekend… they will be loving 
it,” he continued.

“I think at this stage it is still a very special competition. Players know there is the potential to get through to the second and third rounds and draw a really big club. That is what everybody plays for.

“Obviously this season’s competition started probably in July with all the qualifying rounds, so it is a great competition. Hopefully we can have a very good run in it this season.”

Selection wise, Grayson revealed that injured Bailey Wright, Calum Woods and Andy Little are unlikely to feature in the tie, with the former undergoing surgery on his groin and the latter two struggling to shake off hamstring and calf problems respectively.

“The medical team were really happy with how Bailey’s operation went,” said 
Grayson, whose team is 11/8 to win to nil.

“He’s doing all his rehab work and we will keep moving him along nicely. There is no time scale on it but I would say he’s at least a 
couple of weeks away from 
a return.

“Calum and Andy are making good progress but the fortunate thing for us is that we don’t need to rush them back because of how fit and healthy the squad is.

“If you look the other night, we took 22 players down to Swindon [a game Preston lost], so we’ve certainly got real strength in depth.”

Meanwhile, Havant midfielder Brian Stock has told his teammates they have nothing to fear. “We’ve played really well in recent weeks to put ourselves in a good position (fifth) in the league,” he said.

“We’ll go into the game full of confidence and with nothing to lose. As long as we don’t get nervous and we handle the occasion then we have nothing to fear.”