Things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Preston North End in recent weeks.
Three straight defeats to away at West Brom and Fulham and at home to QPR have left Alex Neil’s side’s place in the play-off places somewhat under threat.
Those defeats mean that North End are now just one point ahead of seventh-placed Bristol City in the race for the final play-off places, with nine games of the season still to be played at some point or another.
So what are the biggest stories coming out of Deepdale over the past week or so?
Here, we take at look at four stories to have emerged from Preston over the past seven days.
Out on loan player returns
One player who made a premature return to Deepdale this week, was winger Josh Ginnelly.
The 22-year-old had joined Bristol Rovers on a season-long loan back in the January transfer window, after making just nine Preston appearances since moving to the club from Walsall at the start of 2019.
But after playing nine games for Rovers following that move, Gas manager Ben Garner confirmed this week that Ginnelly has returned to Preston for treatment on a “really unusual” hip, with the hope that he will be able to return to the Memorial Stadium before the end of the campaign.
Neil’s backing for under fire striker
It has been a difficult season so far for Sean Maguire, with a lack of goals for the attacker contributing him to come under fire for his recent performances in a North End shirt, with those frustrations topped off by when the 25-year-old hit the woodwork not once, but twice in that loss to QPR.
That criticism however, is something that Neil does not necessarily agree with, and speaking earlier this week, the Preston manager was full of praise for the work rate produced by the Irishman, who believes fit into his system nicely.
Indeed, Neil still seems to believe that the goals will come for Maguire, suggesting there may be yet more opportunities for the forward to prove himself between now and the end of the season.
Duo make injury progress
Having endured a number of injury problems this season, Preston were handed to welcome boosts this week, with news on midfield pair Brad Potts and Paul Gallagher.
Potts had missed the defeat to QPR with an Achilles issue, with Gallagher also forced off late on in that game, further applying the pressure in the centre of the park for North End.
That however appears to have been lifted as the week has gone on, with Neil revealing on Thursday that the pair are now once again in contention for selection for North End going forward.
Encouraging news emerges on Ben Pearson
Another midfielder Preston have had to cope without in recent weeks is Ben Pearson, with the 25-year-old lynchpin absent from their last two games with a hamstring injury.
It had originally been suggested that Pearson was facing up to a month on the sidelines as a result of the injury, although it now seems the setback may not be quite as serious as first feared.
Providing an update on Pearson on Thursday, Neil told Preston’s official Twitter account that the midfielder was doing “better than expected”, meaning the midfielder could be back in contention earlier than anticipated.