Preston North End take on Wycombe Wanderers at Deepdale today, and that means a return for two men.

The Lilywhites are back at home after two away games, and will be looking to build on Tuesday night’s 3-2 win at Bournemouth.

When Alex Neil takes his place in the dugout today, he’ll be going up against a Preston cult hero in Gareth Ainsworth.

The 47-year-old spent not one, not two but three spells at Preston in his playing days, first in 1992 before making himself a favourite upon his return in 1993.


28 May 1994: Gareth Ainsworth of Preston North End in action during the Endsleigh League Division Three play-off match against Wycombe Wanderers p…

He came back on loan from Wimbledon in 2002, and was always loved by fans for his relentless work rate and never-say-die attitude.

Ainsworth turned his hand to management with Wycombe, and achieved the remarkable feat of leading them to the Championship with a League One play-off final win over Oxford United in July.

The second tier hasn’t been kind to Ainsworth so far; Wycombe sit third-bottom of the table, with just two wins on the board and nine defeats to their name.

Ainsworth won’t get the hero’s welcome he arguably deserves at Deepdale due to the global pandemic, but he will certainly be looking to continue Preston’s torrid home form with a win against his former side today.

Wycombe Wanderers v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Ainsworth will likely name a former Preston winger in his starting lineup, with Daryl Horgan currently turning out for the Chairboys.

The 28-year-old didn’t quite live up to expectations at Preston having joined from Dundalk in January 2017, and Alex Neil allowed him to move on to Hibernian in 2018.

He returned to the Championship with Wycombe, and has made 15 appearances this term – but is still waiting for his first league goal or assist since his move.

Horgan would no doubt love to get off the mark for Wycombe today, and Preston must be wary of the diminutive Irishman as he makes his Deepdale return.

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