Preston take on Bristol City on Saturday afternoon, targeting a ninth unbeaten game in the Championship.

The Lilywhites beat Millwall 3-1 away from home last week, racking up a fourth straight win on the road. Yet with just one win in the last four home league games, Alex Neil will be hoping for an upturn at Deepdale.

He’ll have to do it without Ben Pearson though. North End’s talismanic midfielder picked up a 10th yellow card of the season last week, so now serves a two-match ban.

With that in mind, here is our predicted XI for Saturday’s clash with sixth-placed Bristol City…

Declan Rudd will keep his place in goal with Connor Ripley out for the season, whilst Tom Clarke may keep his place. Clarke came in at right back last week and scored, and whilst Darnell Fisher may be back, Clarke could be kept in the side.

Jordan Storey and Ben Davies will almost certainly keep their spots in central defence, with Andrew Hughes at left back. Hughes has improved as the season has gone on, and now has four goals to his name this term.

With Pearson out, Ryan Ledson is likely to come in as the ‘combative’ midfielder. Whilst we’ve stuck with 4-1-4-1 here, it would be little surprise to see Neil change his setup slightly. Ledson is still inexperienced in the Championship, and may not yet be trusted to play as a sole holder like Pearson is.

That may see Paul Gallagher drop into a holding role alongside him and Brad Potts to the right. For now, we’re saying Gallagher will start on the right and Potts central alongside Alan Browne.

That leaves Tom Barkhuizen on the left, offering support to Seani Maguire in the final third. Maguire has played a lot lately, but he’s getting back to his best – and with week’s rest, should be fine.

That would leave Michael Crowe, Darnell Fisher, Josh Earl, Daniel Johnson, Jayden Stockley and Lukas Nmecha on the bench. One spot would be available, and it’s hard to call; midfield cover come with youngsters Jack Baxter or Adam O’Reilly, or after admitting he’s short of a winger, Neil could put Josh Ginnelly on the bench.

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