Gregory wants his players to step up to the challenge

John Gregory shouts instructions during his first game in charge of Crawley Town who drew 0-0 at Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup
John Gregory shouts instructions during his first game in charge of Crawley Town who drew 0-0 at Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup

New Crawley Town manager John Gregory wants other members of his team to rise to the challenge in place of his injured captain Josh Simpson when he oversees his first home game in charge as the Reds host third-placed Preston North End.

Simpson dropped out of the side with a hamstring strain just a few minutes before the start of their 0-0 draw in the FA Cup second round away to Bristol Rovers.

Dannie Bulman, who has led the team before, donned the skipper’s arm band to good effect.

Gregory said: “Other people have to step up. Dannie did so last weekend and captained the side really well. The old saying of playing with 11 captains is still relevant today. I want everyone to act with a strong sense of discipline and also to act as leaders.

“I need people like Joe Walsh and big Fadz (Kyle McFadzean) at the back and also Mark Connolly to be a voice in the team.

“Gary Alexander last Saturday led the team from the front and played like a captain, particularly in the first 45 minutes.

“And behind them all you’ve got Paul Jones I expect to organise his defence. You don’t normally think of goalkeepers as captains but I expect him to act like one.

“It was pleasing last weekend that everyone stepped up to the plate and that’s what it should be each and every game.”

Mike Jones is now recovered from his groin injury which kept him out last week and is available to play this weekend.

Gregory has been casting his eye over former Crawley loan striker Paul Hayes who is a free agent and played in training match this week but is not going to be offered a contract.

He said: “I will be searching far and wide to bring in the best quality players. If we need to improve I have been told by the board I can have a limited amount of money to go and bring in new players. And the boys are here to make sure I don’t need to go and get any more!”

Gregory will be going head to head with one of his former players, Simon Grayson, who he managed at Aston Villa and is now manager of Preston.

Gregory said: “Simon was a very good professional and someone you could rely on. He was a student of the game and I could imagine him witing up noted at home after our training sessions to use at a later time in a coaching capacity.

“He’s an intelligent boy and it didn’t surprise me he’s managing at Preston and doing very well.”

Gregory is also looking forward to meeting the Broadfield Stadium fans for the first time.

He said: “We were very well supported last weekend at Bristol for the cup match, they stood in the rain and I expect this weekend will be the same. I think it will be a very good turnout and kids can get in for £1 do it will be a good opportunitiy for mums and dads.

“It will be a good atmosphere here - I have been here to game in the past - the players are all up for it.

“It will be brilliant for me, my first time here in a manager capacity. I’m really looking forward to meeting a lot of the fans this weekend.

“This club has a history of being a successful, happy club. We have to get that feeling back and I want to this weekend against Preston.”