Preston head into today’s derby day clash against rivals Burnley with renewed confidence following recent impressive draws against teams at the top.Advertisement
Despite being 10 points from safety, Phil Brown’s side battled for impressive draws against leaders Queen’s Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest in the last seven days.
They now enter the white hot atmosphere of a Lancashire derby, with the memories of the loss in the reverse fixture at Turf Moor still strong.
North End led 3-1 with six minutes left, but two goals from Chris Iwelumo and a last minute winner from Jay Rodriguez saw the Clarets snatch victory.
Defender Leon Cort misses the match due to the terms of his loan from Burnley, meaning a reshuffle in defence with Craig Morgan likely to fill in.
Tuesday’s draw at the Forest Ground saw a welcome return to Paul Coutts, but North End are still missing strikers Iain Hume and Chris Brown. Both players are still edging towards a return to first team action.
Preston will look towards Keith Treacy to provide more deadly crosses, following his assists at Forest and Watford in recent weeks which highlight his value to the team after returning injury.
Midfielder Barry Nicholson will also be looking to add to his tally following two goals in successive matches following 16 months on the sidelines with a broken leg.
The match will also see Burnley’s Graham Alexander return to the ground where he plied his trade for eight years, where he became captain before his moving across the county in August 2007.
Burnley currently sitting 10th in the Championship table on 47 points, nearly double the total of the Lilywhites who have 24, who sit bottom.
The Clarets, who recently appointed Eddie Howe as manager, have won two of their last three matches in the league. They will be looking to bounce back after the 5-1 hammering by Premier League side West Ham in the FA Cup on Monday.
Winger Chris Eagles and striker Chris Iwelumo will present the most danger for Preston, with 11 goals each this season. Eagles in particular has put in a string of fine performances recently and is sure to cause defender Billy Jones problems.
A win is vital to Preston’s survival chances, with the club currently 10 points from Crystal Palace who occupy 21st place. This is easier said than done, with North End searching for their first win since December 11, when they beat Ipswich 1-0.
Preston can take inspiration from Burnley’s last visit to Deepdale, in January 2009, when penalties from Callum Davidson and Neil Mellor helped North End to a 2-1 win.
A repeat of that result has never been more important.
Follow every kick with live updates from our PNE blogger Andrew Smith, from 2.30pm.