Cresswell determined to follow old pal’s lead

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SHEFFIELD United striker Richard Cresswell has paid tribute to former teammate Graham Alexander ahead of tonight’s visit to Preston North End.

Alexander became only the second outfield player in the history of English football to make 1,000 professional appearances when he helped Burnley beat Swansea City earlier this year before returning to Deepdale during the close season.

Cresswell, who was also a member of the Preston squads which reached Championship play-off finals in 2001 and 2005, said: “What Graham has done is nothing short of remarkable.

“To still be playing at 40 just goes to show what a great professional he is, especially when you think he’s in central midfield although he did start out as a full-back.”

Asked whether he would like to follow Alexander’s lead, Cresswell added: “Why not?

“I’m 34 now but I feel as fit as I’ve ever done.

“Everyone wants to play as long as they possibly can.”

Preston manager Phil Brown, who expressed an interest in taking charge of United before Danny Wilson’s predecessor Micky Adams was appointed, admitted he had to persuade North End’s hierarchy to sign Alexander following his release from Turf Moor. “He’s been the consummate professional from day one,” Brown said. “He’s raised the bar for the rest of the dressing room.”

Alexander, who helped Burnley dash United’s Premier League dreams in the 2009 play-off final at Wembley, is expected to start against Wilson’s men this evening.

Despite harbouring “some really great memories” of his time at Preston, Cresswell admitted he is desperate to atone for the disappointment of drawing Sunday’s Steel City derby after helping United take a two goal lead.

“Honestly, we’re really disappointed about it,” he said. “I thought we should have held out definitely.

“We played really well first half and dealt with Sheffield Wednesday’s long balls and throw-ins. I felt we did enough to win but we didn’t and so we have to get on with it and not dwell.”

Cresswell added: “You always know that Phil Brown’s teams are going to work hard and be really well-organised so we’ve got to be ready for that.”

Meanwhile, Wilson has said the club have no intention of bringing back 19-year-old striker Jordan Slew on loan from Blackburn.