Preston North End are looking to snap a poor run of results as they welcome in-form Rotherham United to Deepdale this afternoon.
The Millers are on cloud nine right now having lost just one of their last five games, and in that period they’ve secured 3-0 wins at home to Derby County and away at Middlesbrough.
Paul Warne has got his side firing and it’s all down to a change of system, with the former Rotherham striker-turned manager opting to now use three centre-backs and wing-backs instead of a back four.
Whilst Warne has been able to keep it consistent, Alex Neil will have to change things up following the departure of Ben Davies to Liverpool.
And with the Lilywhites only scoring once in the league in January, Neil may have to alter more than his defence as the Yorkshire side come to town.
Let’s look at some of the dilemmas that the Scotsman will be facing ahead of the clash with Rotherham this afternoon.
Did each of these 18 ex-Preston North End players ever score a goal at Deepdale?
Which formation to use
We all know by now that Neil’s favoured system is a 4-2-3-1, but with Rotherham now using three centre-backs, he could be tempted to switch things up.
Neil has switched to a 3-5-2 formation four times this season, against Stoke, Huddersfield and Coventry to counter-act the opposition’s system, whilst he played it against Watford’s 4-4-2 and it failed spectacularly.
It does look like the three-back formation is his ‘Plan B’ and we could see it come into play here, and it could see both new centre-backs in Sepp van den Berg and Liam Lindsay flanking the evergreen Paul Huntington in defence.
Whether to throw Anthony Gordon straight in
PNE pulled off a real deadline day coup with the signing of Everton attacker Gordon, who has been in and around the first team at Goodison Park since Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival last season.
The decision though was made to get him more minutes, and with Preston struggling for pace and creativity out wide, Gordon should get plenty of time to shine.
But if Neil does decide to match Rotherham’s system, then it would probably be a case of the teenager having to bide his time as it would be unlikely that he starts, but if it’s a 4-2-3-1 then there’s a strong case to throw Gordon straight in from the start.
Time to give Ched Evans a try from the start?
Speaking of giving a player a chance from the start, Ched Evans is one Preston player who is yet to be thrown in from the first minute since his signing.
The 32-year-old striker has made two cameo appearances and with North End trailing at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend, Neil opted not to use his signing from Fleetwood.
It seemed to some like it was a damning indication that the manager did not rate him, but with Rotherham being physically imposing at the back, this may be a game where Evans’ muscle is needed to help bring others into play going forward.