ANDY Preece says Andy Morrison was not the hardest player he faced during his Football League career.

The revelation, in Sunday's Football League Paper, is sure to shock the Wingmakers' assistant manager, who is currently recovering well from major surgery a week ago.

"Andy would like me to say it was him but I never lost against him and usually managed to score, so I can't!" Preece admitted.

"I played against Gary Pallister at Manchester United and he was good in the air. He was quick, he was good on the ball and he didn't seem to have a weakness. You never got any change out of him, he was so difficult."

The Airbus director of football began his Football League playing career with Northampton Town, dropping into non-league with Worcester City before heading to the big stage with Crystal Palace via Wrexham and Stockport County.

Someone came and said to me: "Son, you'll never make it!"

"I was still in the youth team when I made my Worcester debut in the Conference. After the game, and I don't know whether or not it was a director, someone came and said to me: "Son, you'll never make it!

"That stayed with me throughout the rest of my career but, fortunately, I proved him wrong."

Preece has had many strike partners but nominates big Kevin Francis as the best he's played alongside.

"He was about 6ft 7in, a true target man and a really underrated player. We had a great understanding and he made my life a lot easier.

"Whenever he went chasing the ball, anyone in his way would get clipped, I've seen defenders having to be stretchered off in the first 10 seconds of matches. He was such a powerful lad to play with.

"He went off to be a Mountie in Canada and he would certainly get his man!"

Preece was a 76th-minute substitute for Iain Dowie in the Crystal Palace side that played Manchester United on the day Eric Cantona leaped over an advertising hoarding and Kung-Fu kicked a spectator, an action that cost the Frenchman £20,000 and a ban.

"I didn't really see what was happening because I was warming up on the other side but could see someone was sent-off and there was some commotion," Preece commented.

"In the bar afterwards we were asking each other "did that really happen?"

"Cantona suffered the consequences but came back all guns blazing, fair play to him."

"He suffered the consequences but came back all guns blazing, fair play to him."

Although Old Trafford and Anfield were Preece's favourite venues for atmosphere, Turf Moor is somewhere he loved to play.

"I always used to score or get a good result against Burnley, a lot of times they were derby games as well, so it would be a great atmosphere."

The full interview is in this week's Football League Paper and well worth a read as Preece also looks back on his favourite manager, his first promotion, his biggest achievement and funniest incidents, as well as revealing his ambition to return to Football League management one day.

"If you keep on being successful then hopefully someone will give you that opportunity," he concluded.

Photo: Andy Preece played in the Premer League for Crystal Palace.