Preston got back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon by hammering Queens Park Rangers 4-1.
Jayden Stockley, Jordan Storey and Alan Browne put North End 3-0 up, with Brad Potts adding a fourth.
Truth be told, North End were vastly superior across the pitch, turning in one of the strongest performances of the season. Ben Pearson has been hailed for his performances, and two young players deserve just as much praise.
Having returned from injury, Ben Davies came straight back into defence. Paul Huntington missed out, meaning we finally got to see Davies and Storey together in the Championship.
The pair started in the 2-0 Carabao Cup win at Leeds in August, and fans have been calling for them to play together more.
Huntington and Tom Clarke haven’t been at their best, but Alex Neil tends to favour an experienced head alongside Davies.
Now, such a commanding performance from Davies and Storey in Saturday’s win should have made Neil’s mind up at the back.
The hope was that the duo would dovetail perfectly and show that they are Preston’s centre back partnership of the future. They certainly showed that, as well as displaying that they should be Neil’s first-choice pairing right now too.
Davies has been superb since Neil’s arrival, with his composure and reading of the game key to Neil’s back four. Storey is a little more old-fashioned, but that’s not to say he can’t play. Storey is strong, good in the air, aggressive and can still play out if needed.
A goal capped off Storey’s afternoon, in which he and Davies shackled Nahki Wells and then adapted to deal with Matt Smith up until his goal.
Individually, they have arguably been our best defenders this season. They have now shown signs that they are ready to strike a formidable partnership too.
Neil must now decide whether to go with Davies and Storey permanently, or bring back Huntington or Clarke when they’re fully fit. The trip to Stoke coming up will indicate a lot, as that’s a tricky game for any young defender.
At just 21 and 23 respectively, Storey and Davies are still learning, and mistakes are inevitable. Yet having dominated experienced Championship strikers on Saturday, the shirts should be theirs to lose.
We have seen the future of the Preston defence. It’s now time for Neil to decide whether it’s the present too.