Preston North End slipped to a disappointing loss against Rotherham United at Deepdale this weekend, going down 2-1 to the Millers.
Paul Warne’s outfit are very much in-form right now and the victory was their third away one on the bounce, and it dragged them out of the relegation zone at the expense of Birmingham City.
But for Preston it was a fourth loss in six games and their poor home form continued, but it is now a team very much in transition with Alex Neil giving full debuts to three players in the wake of the departures of Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Darnell Fisher.
There were a lot more questions than answers though following the defeat – let’s look at some of the dilemmas that Neil is facing following the latest setback.
Centre-back pairing for Blackburn away
Liam Lindsay slotted in next to Paul Huntington against Rotherham, and we learnt one thing very quickly – he’s no Ben Davies.
Whoever came in to replace the new Liverpool centre-back was always going to be inferior, and Lindsay didn’t have the greatest start to life as a Lilywhite.
He was out of position for Rotherham’s second goal and despite showing a good array of passing out from the back, he didn’t look the quickest of defenders.
The Scot hasn’t played much recently so he could just be rusty, but he could keep his place for the Friday night clash with Blackburn Rovers and veteran Paul Huntington could be dropped.
Neil withdrew Huntington in the second half for Liverpool loanee Sepp van den Berg as he was worried about being hit with pace on the counter attack, and with Blackburn possessing the likes of Harvey Elliott and Adam Armstrong, Huntington may have to make way for the quicker Dutchman.
Quiz: Were each of these 20 former Preston North End players left or right footed?
Whether to give Ched Evans an extended run in the starting XI
After two cameo appearances in January from the bench, North End decided to turn Evans’ loan into a permanent deal until the end of the season, simply to help Neil accommodate all his new signings in the squad.
He was thrown in from the start against Rotherham and their physical defenders, and to the surprise of many he was probably Preston’s best player on the day.
Evans was on hand to pull a goal back in the second half for PNE and his link-up play with the attacking midfielders was something that hadn’t been seen at Deepdale for a while.
He may have played himself into a longer run of games in the starting 11, but then again Neil may choose to go for a quicker player in Emil Riis to play against Rovers.
Time to bring DJ back into the fold?
To the relief of many PNE fans, Daniel Johnson penned a new contract last month until 2023 after months of uncertainty.
The newly-capped Jamaica international scored 12 league goals for North End last season, but has spent the last four games on the bench with Neil favouring a midfield trio of Ben Whiteman, Jayson Molumby and Ryan Ledson.
Johnson offers a lot of creativity when on the pitch and surely it must be in the manager’s mind to recall him into the line-up, probably in favour of Ledson who has been the least stand-out of the trio that have started the last four Championship games.
And with the Lancashire derby against Blackburn just a few days away, it may be the perfect time to bring ‘DJ’ back into the mix, having scored three times for the Lilywhites against Rovers over the years.