Preston are back in action on Tuesday night, playing the first of two difficult away games in a matter of days.
North End face Fulham at the weekend, but it’s West Bromwich Albion up first on Tuesday. Preston head to The Hawthorns after a 2-1 home win over Hull City on Saturday, which was a little unconvincing in patches.
Still, a win is a win and Preston remain in the top six. With two tough away games to come, Preston will remain underdogs this week and in the playoff race – and the absence of a key player is far from ideal.
Daniel Johnson missed Saturday’s win over Hull, which unsurprisingly led to a lack of creativity and goal threat for much of the game. North End really miss Johnson when he’s out of action, and we only just got him back in January following a six week absence.
Now though, the 27-year-old is out again, and Alex Neil has today admitted that he isn’t sure Johnson will be making the trip to the West Midlands, claiming his knee flared up in a training session.
Neil added that Preston have had the injury scanned, but it’s just inflammation rather than a long-term problem, so sitting out Tuesday’s game seems likely in order to avoid any longer term issues.
AN on Johnson: “I’m not sure DJ is going to make this one, his knee flared up at the end of a training session. We’ve had it scanned and it’s inflamed a little bit but we don’t think it will be a long term thing.” #pnefc
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) February 24, 2020
With Johnson possibly out, Alan Browne may be a strong contender to come in having scored against Hull as a substitute. We may even see Neil go back to the 4-3-3 he used at Leeds United in December, which deployed Browne and Brad Potts as athletic shuttlers ahead of Ben Pearson.
That’s also what Neil used against Fulham at home in December, meaning we think of that system as one he uses against ‘big’ sides – and that certainly fits the bill for Tuesday.