After over three weeks without football, Preston North End will return to action when they face Stoke City on Monday afternoon in Staffordshire.
The last time Lilywhites fans were able to see their team in action was against Barnsley at Deepdale on December 11, which was Ryan Lowe’s first match in charge after he replaced Frankie McAvoy in the dugout.
Matches since against Millwall, Sheffield United and West Brom were postponed due to COVID cases so the visit to Michael O’Neill’s side is a chance to extend Lowe’s winning run to two as North End boss.
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It’s almost impossible to predict a line-up nowadays when it’s not known who will be sidelined with COVID, but let’s try and predict how Lowe will shape up at the Bet365 Stadium.
There’s just one line-up alteration from the team that defeated the Tykes over three weeks ago and it comes at the top end of the pitch.
Sean Maguire didn’t do much to inspire confidence against the lowly Championship side, so if he’s fit then Ched Evans may be deserving of a start alongside Emil Riis.
But that place could easily go to Scott Sinclair who showed flashes of quality in his cameo off the bench in that match and will be chomping at the bit to make an appearance.
From what was seen against Barnsley though there could be one more slight alteration – Ali McCann whilst he worked hard didn’t offer much from the right-wing-back role and considering he has experience from last season in that position, Alan Browne may offer more there.
Whilst he scored the first goal of Lowe’s era from midfield he is able to play both positions and it’s definitely worth swapping the two players around against Stoke to see if it more effective.