Preston North End will look to take another big step in the race for promotion to the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, when they host Millwall at Deepdale.
Alex Neil’s side moved to within three points of second-placed Leeds with a 2-0 win at Stoke City on Wednesday night, their fourth win in their last five games.
Millwall however, are still in with a shot at the play-off places following their 1-1 draw with another promotion-chasing side Fulham in midweek, and beat Preston 1-0 at the Den in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season.
This therefore, is unlikely to be an easy task for Preston, and here, we’ve taken a look at the starting lineup Neil could name to give his side the chance of taking all three points on Saturday.
With the 4-2-3-1 formation often employed by Preston working to good effect again at Stoke, we imagine it will be that same system that Neil elects to use once again on Saturday.
In goal, first-choice ‘keeper Declan Rudd ought to continue his run of featuring in every league this season for North End.
Ahead of him, Preston’s defence ought to remain the same, with Ben Davies’ towering display in the air at Stoke coming at the perfect time ahead of the physical challenge Millwall are likely to pose, something Patrick Bauer has also shown on countless occasions this season he is capable of dealing with.
One change that could be made for Preston, is in the holding midfield. Despite picking himself off the ground to score their opener on Wednesday, Alan Browne has been left struggling with an ankle injury from that game.
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If the Irishman does not recover in time for Saturday’s match, then Paul Gallagher, who made his first appearance since in a month after an injury of his own when he came off the bench against the Potters, could partner Ben Pearson in those positions.
Upfront, David Nugent, who also came off the bench at Stoke, could come into the side to give North End a more out and out target man against the physicality of the Lions’ defence.
In order to allow that to happen, Sean Maguire could drop out of the centre forward role he has employed recently, and into the wide left position he started the season in.
That would allow Scott Sinclair a break after two games already this week, as he adapts to regular game time after a slow start to the season with Celtic, with top scorers Daniel Johnson and Tom Barkhuizen making up the rest of North End’s attack.