Preston are back in league action this weekend, taking on Swansea City at Deepdale.

North End lost to Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup last time out, and will be desperate for a response on Saturday.

The great news for Alex Neil is that he has a whole host of different options to pick from the first time in months.

New signings Brad Potts, Josh Ginnelly and Jayden Stockley were all cup-tied last weekend, and Connor Ripley is also available.


Ben Pearson returns from suspension, whilst Seani Maguire, Alan Browne and Brandon Barker all returned as substitutes last week. Josh Earl was also an unused substitute after a recent injury.

Ben Davies and Louis Moult are nearing returns, but Callum Robinson, Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop remain out.

That’s nine more players Neil has available since the New Year’s Day defeat to Rotherham, so picking a team this weekend isn’t easy.

Despite signing Ripley this week, we still think Declan Rudd will start in goal. Ripley hasn’t had a lot of time with his new teammates, and Rudd may keep his place for now. However, that does leave Neil with a problem when it comes to starting Ripley down the line.

Tom Clarke was rested last weekend and should return at right back, joining Paul Huntington, Jordan Storey and Andrew Hughes at the back.

Pearson is almost certain to return following his four-game ban, and it may be time for Paul Gallagher to have a rest. Gallagher has battled on exceptionally of late, playing every single game in the injury crisis, but the 34-year-old should now receive a well-earned rest – especially after a family bereavement this week. Daniel Johnson would presumably start instead.

Potts has been featuring on the right for Barnsley this season and may start there on Saturday, allowing Tom Barkhuizen to switch to the left. Alan Browne would surely start, supporting target man Stockley in attack. North End have been missing a big man up top; now they have one, he’s expected to start.

That would leave a bench of Ripley, Earl, Darnell Fisher, Gallagher or Ryan Ledson, Barker or Ginnelly, Maguire and Lukas Nmecha.

It’s about as strong as North End have looked for months now, and fans will be hoping that a strong end to the season will begin here.

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