Preston are back in action tonight, with a trip to Middlesbrough facing Alex Neil’s side this evening.
North End made it five away wins in a row on Saturday, beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0 at Ewood Park. Daniel Johnson’s early goal proved to be the winner, making it 10 games unbeaten for Alex Neil’s side.
That record will be put to the test tonight, as a game against Tony Pulis’s Boro will threaten to end the run. Boro lost at home to Brentford on Saturday, and will be desperate for a response.
A North End win could blow the play-off race wide open, as the gap to Boro would close to four points.
With that in mind, here’s how we’re predicting North End will line up…
Barring any late snag, Declan Rudd will again start in goal. Jordan Storey and Ben Davies have been outstanding in 2019, and will almost certainly start at centre back.
Darnell Fisher’s red card at Blackburn poses a problem. Tom Clarke isn’t fully fit, so January signing Joe Rafferty may be given a start. The ex-Rochdale man made his Preston debut as a substitute at Blackburn, and may be thrust in tonight.
Andrew Hughes will surely start at left back after praise from Neil. That would complete the back four unless Neil throws a major surprise.
A big decision comes in midfield. Ryan Ledson impressed in the last two games, but with Ben Pearson back from suspension, Ledson may be dropped. You have to feel sorry for him; no matter how well he plays in Pearson’s absence, he’s out once Pearson returns.
Brad Potts is fighting to be fit but Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson should remain in the side, with Paul Gallagher and Lukas Nmecha out wide. A rest for Seani Maguire may not be the worst idea, but the Irishman remains likely to start.
In this case, we expect Michael Crowe, Clarke, Josh Earl, Ledson, Potts and Jayden Stockley to make the bench. That leaves one spot; Josh Ginnelly was a substitute on Saturday, but a return for Callum Robinson wouldn’t be a huge surprise tonight.