SIMON GRAYSON’S successor at Preston will be warning his players to guard against complacency when the struggling men from Wearside travel to Lancashire on Saturday.

Grayson decided to take on the challenge at the Stadium of Light over the summer rather than stay at Deepdale, where he had enjoyed promotion from League One.

But he has endured a torrid time so far at Sunderland. They have now failed to win any of their last eight games and have dropped down to second bottom in the table.

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It is in stark contrast to his former club, where Alex Neil has carried on his good work of the last two years to lift them into a play-off place. The Lilywhites are undefeated in seven matches.

Grayson will be returning to Deepdale for the first time this weekend as Sunderland manager and Neil will not be expecting an easy afternoon – regardless of the form.

“I wouldn’t say we were favourites,” Neil insisted. “If you base things on form you could argue that but I don’t think you can base games on form.

“Sunderland are under pressure so they will come and try to win the game because that’s what the club and the fans will expect.”

Grayson led Preston up in 2015 and guided them to a decent mid-table finish last year. He was keen to take on the challenge at Sunderland, where he knew there would be little cash to spend after relegation.

Neil said: “Simon Grayson did a good job here, he steadied the ship and got promotion but it doesn’t change anything for me going into the game.

“I am under pressure too because of the pressure I put on myself because I want to win every game, I am my own harshest critic.”

Grayson is likely to make changes to his side for the trip to Preston following the midweek hammering at Ipswich.

He was stunned by the manner of his team’s performance that night, when the Tractor Boys found it far too easy to break them down and score goals.