Preston North End face Hull City at Deepdale on Saturday looking for a response to suffering a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Millwall last weekend.
Alex Neil’s side delivered an unusually lacklustre performance against Millwall, with the Lilywhites struggling to really get into any sort of real attacking rhythm and being undone by a laps in concentration at the back, to fall to a first league defeat since they were beaten 2-0 by Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day.
That defeat brought to an end a six-match unbeaten run in the Championship for Preston, which allowed them to climb back into the play-off places and keep themselves firmly amongst the teams chasing promotion to the Premier League.
Preston had secured back to back wins away at Wigan Athletic and Stoke City in their two previous games, as Neil’s side have started to really find some form on their travels – and they will now be aiming to get their home form back on track against Hull, after winning just one of their last five league games at Deepdale.
Given Hull have been suffering a dip in their form over the last few weeks, with the Tigers having gone seven matches in the Championship without a win, Preston will be feeling like this is the ideal match for them to bounce back and consolidate their top six place.
QUIZ: Can you name the club these 14 ex-Preston North End players are playing for now?
Here then, we take a look at the XI that Neil should select against Hull on Saturday…
Despite Preston delivering a lacklustre performance last weekend in their defeat against Millwall, Neil will not be likely to make too many changes to his starting line-up this weekend, with the Lilywhites using the same sort of set up that has served them well throughout the campaign.
In goal Declan Rudd will continue to keep his place in the starting line-up, with the keeper having been a mainstay for Preston throughout the season in the Championship, and he will be hoping to record a second clean sheet in three matches against Hull on Saturday.
Neil could have a decision to make over who to start at right-back, with the Preston boss confirming ahead of the game against Hull that Darnell Fisher could be set to return, after the defender missed the defeat against Millwall with a slight hamstring problem – and that means he could come back into the side in place of Tom Clarke.
The Lilywhites are likely to keep the rest of the back four the same, with both Patrick Bauer and Ben Davies starting at the heart of their defence, while Andrew Hughes should keep his place at left-back after his recent return to the side from injury.
At the base of midfield Paul Gallagher will be pushing for a start, but Neil is likely to stick with both Alan Browne and Ben Pearson who have both been in good form for the Lilywhites since the turn of the year – and they could be key to keeping Hull from getting a grip of the game in the middle of the field.
Preston are also likely to start the same trio in the roles behind the lone forward, with Daniel Johnson starting in the number ten position and Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair playing of the right and left-hand sides – and they will be important in providing the creativity in the final third.
Up front though, Neil could decide to change things up, with Sean Maguire to come in for David Nugent, after the experienced forward struggled to really make an impact from the start for Preston against Millwall last time out – and Maguire’s mobility could prove key to unsettling the opposition defence.