Preston North End return to action on Wednesday night, as they host Middlesbrough at Deepdale.

Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Wycombe Wanderers wasn’t ideal, with the home struggles remaining something of a problem for Alex Neil.

A meeting with a Neil Warnock side doesn’t seem ideal, and it’s only made more difficult by a number of absences.

Ben Pearson now looks to be out for at least six weeks with an ankle injury, whilst Daniel Johnson misses out through suspension.


There is a boost in midfield as Darnell Fisher returns at right back, meaning Alan Browne could be pushed into midfield.

Preston North End v Mansfield Town - Carabao Cup First Round
Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

Ledson, Browne and Brad Potts are all strong runners, but after Josh Harrop’s fairly anonymous display against Wycombe, North End may be lacking a more technical ball-player in midfield.

Therefore, this could be a chance for Tom Bayliss to really stake a claim for a starting role having featured a couple of times in recent games.

The 21-year-old was barely seen last season, and still hasn’t started a league game for Preston, but looked a goal threat at Watford as he broke into the box and tested Ben Foster with a header.

Alex Neil also trusted him to come on late in the day against Bournemouth, helping Preston see out the game and win 3-2.

Fans have been frustrated by the lack of football Bayliss has received, but with Pearson out of action, this could be a chance for Bayliss to come in and get his foot on the ball in midfield alongside Ledson and Browne.

Preston North End v Mansfield Town - Carabao Cup First Round
Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

One source recently told us that Bayliss has been training well of late – which could explain those substitute appearances – but he just hasn’t been able to break into the Preston side.

Bayliss showed promise in pre-season, especially as a ball-carrier as he drifted through midfield, whilst also being able to keep possession ticking over.

He may not be able to replicate Pearson’s defensive ability, which will hopefully come with experience, but he needs to play in order to get there.

Ryan Ledson had to wait for his chance to gain an extended run in the Preston side, and Bayliss will hopefully follow suit one day – so with Johnson and Pearson missing, this could be the right time for Bayliss to make an impact, offering something a little different in midfield to try and solve these home woes.

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