Preston are back at Deepdale once again this weekend, taking on Bristol City in the Championship.

Alex Neil will look to quickly get his side back on track after losing 3-0 to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup in midweek, especially having rested a number of key players.

Only five players kept their places from the win at Birmingham City. Ben Davies, Darnell Fisher, Daniel Johnson, Tom Barkhuizen and Josh Harrop all played in both games.

They may well feature again this weekend, though you could argue Harrop’s place is under the most threat. Seani Maguire and Billy Bodin may be back in the fold, potentially threatening Harrop’s role.

Preston North End’s Josh Harrop celebrates scoring against Hull City. (Photo by Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images,)

Ahead of Saturday’s game, boss Neil has offered his view on playmaker Harrop. He’s admitted that he told Harrop in no uncertain terms that he was disappointed with his pre-season displays, which Harrop was frustrated with.

Since then though, Harrop has really stepped it up, taking Neil’s tough love perfectly. Neil thinks Harrop was been ‘really excellent’ recently, and deserves all the praise he’s getting.

Whilst popular with sections of the Preston fanbase, it’s hard to argue with Neil’s comments. Harrop didn’t really impress in pre-season, and started the season looking like he would fade into the background.

He’s now really kicked on, and is arguably playing his best football since joining North End from Manchester United in 2017. Of course, coming back from a long-term injury is tough, and Harrop maybe just needed a bit of time to get going again.

Really though, Harrop is playing better than he was in Neil’s first season at the club. He now looks like a player that can really impact games – and that may well keep him in the team this weekend.

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