Preston North End have enjoyed a reasonably encouraging Championship season so far.
Alex Neil’s side have remained in the mix for the play-off places all season, having produced a string of impressive performances and enjoyed a solid home record that has largely made them hard to beat at Deepdale.
Indeed, despite a run of three straight defeats in their last three games, Preston still occupy the final play-off place in the Championship table, one point ahead of seven-placed Bristol City with nine games of the season still to be played at some point.
So who what has been the North End’s most effective starting lineup across the course of the season so far?
Here, we take a look at the Lancashire club’s best XI this campaign, based on their ratings from WhoScored.com.
Having employed a 4-2-3-1 formation for the vast majority of the season so far, that is the system that we have based our lineup on here.
In goal, Declan Rudd has been an ever-present for Preston between the posts this season, with the goalkeeper securing a rating of 6.4 in the process.
Ahead of Rudd, the central defence positions not surprisingly go to Ben Davies and Patrick Bauer, who have formed an effective partnership since Bauer’s arrival in the summer, with the duo earning scores of 6.6 and 7 respectively.
The full-back roles meanwhile go to Darnell Fisher (6.7) and Joe Rafferty (6.5), which means club captain Tom Clarke and Andrew Hughes both miss-out on a place in this side.
In holding midfield, Ben Pearson (6.6) – who has been a key figure in the centre of the park this season – partners the veteran Paul Gallagher (6.8), meaning there is no place in the side for versatile Republic of Ireland international Alan Browne.
Out on the wing meanwhile, Tom Barkhuizen’s score of 6.8 earns him a place on the right, with Sean Maguire’s rating of 6.5 secures his spot on the left of attacking midfield, with Daniel Johnson, Preston’s top scorer this season with 11 goals, takes up the number ten role having picked up a score of exactly 7 across the season so far, the joint highest rating in this side.
Upfront, veteran forward David Nugent leads the line for North End, despite finding the net just once since returning to the club from Championship rivals Derby back in the summer transfer window.