Preston North End are set to begin their eighth consecutive Championship campaign, and their first starting with Ryan Lowe at the helm.
Optimism is as high as it has been for a few years after an encouraging second half of last season, and with very reasonable ticket prices in place, we have seen over 11,000 season tickets sold.
The hope is those fans aren’t let down, and Preston can improve on their 13th place finish from last season.
On paper Freddie Woodman, Alvaro Fernandez, Troy Parrott, and potentially Ben Woodburn all seem like exciting signings.
They feature below in our five predictions for the new season…
Woodman to effortlessly replace Iversen
Whilst Daniel Iversen’s shot stopping skills will be hard to replace, Preston swooped quickly to secure the services of Freddie Woodman from Newcastle United.
If his shot stopping and spectacular saves aren’t as special as Iversen’s, he will more than make up for it with the ball at his feet.
That was Iversen’s weakness, but Woodman has been encouraged to play out from the back when playing for the England youth teams, and also in his two years at Swansea City.
Woodman recorded 21 clean sheets in 48 Championship games in the 2020/21 season when the Swans reached the play-off final.
Woodman has worked with Mike Marsh before and now at the age of 25, he has come to the club to establish himself, and really kick on with his career after a stop-start beginning to it.
Iversen kept us in so many games last season, and we need Woodman to have a similar presence in between the sticks.
Emil Riis and Troy Parrott to score 30 between them
Emil Riis had an unbelievable season last time round, hitting the 20 goal mark and comfortably ending as the club’s top scorer; a prediction made on here this time last year.
There’s no reason why he can’t achieve similar success this season, and he could have a more regular striker partner in Troy Parrott, who was admired for his hard work in a front two for MK Dons last season.
Parrott scored 10 for them last season, and will want to improve on that.
Ched Evans and Sean Maguire are unlikely to start too many games this season, and unless another striker comes in, Riis and Parrott will have time to develop their partnership.
Defence will be hit and miss
Last season saw Andrew Hughes really step up to the plate in his left sided central defence role. Solid at the back, and an eagerness to get forward makes him an ideal player in a Ryan Lowe team.
After the departure of Sepp van den Berg, Jordan Storey will have to step up to the plate. A solid loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday came at a good time for him.
Closing in on 100 appearances for North End, the 24-year-old will be wanting to cement his place in that defence, but comes under pressure from Bambo Diaby, and potentially Liam Lindsay and Matthew Olusunde too.
Those three all have weaknesses to their game, and we will need Patrick Bauer to have a solid season, but that will require him to stay injury free as well.
It looks like the weakest part of the team, and pacey strikers will be able to exploit this defence.
Some memorable derby days
In a season like no other, Preston North End will face Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Blackpool in the Championship; eight derby games to look forward to.
Recent history shows Preston enjoy great success from these games more often than not. Last season only saw one win however, coming at home to Blackpool thanks to Cameron Archer.
But Preston have beaten Wigan in 4 of the last six games, and had won six out of the last nine against Blackburn prior to last season.
The fans will travel in their numbers to all the away games, with 4,700 tickets already being sold for the opening game against Wigan.
Ryan Lowe will know winning the majority of these games will help keep the fans onside. 11,000 season ticket holders is a solid start for all home games as well, and it will be nice to see attendances of 16,000 plus on a more regular basis.
Robbie Brady to show a touch of class and have the most assists
It’s a signing that many questioned due to his recent injury record. But Brady has moved for around £20 million in transfer fees previously, he has 57 caps for Republic of Ireland and eight goals in that time too, including one in Euro 2016 against France.
He’s got the talent but has struggled for consistent game time over recent seasons. Only seven games for Bournemouth last season and in his five seasons at Burnley he never once managed 20 league games in a season.
Brady will be keen to take most of the set-pieces, and his left footed delivery could create a lot of chances for the team.
Club captain and international teammate Alan Browne has said Brady is a ‘class above’ and ‘we are lucky to have him’.
Brady will be competing with Alvaro Fernandez for the left-wing back role, and it certainly looks a lot stronger of a position than on the opposite side.
Both players arrive with good reputations in the game, and we could see that position regularly rotated, providing Lowe with exactly the type of players he wants in that role.