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Behind Enemy Lines | Preston North End

The Lilywhites visit The Den...

1 February 2022

George Hodgson, Lancslive's Preston North End reporter, has his say on tonight's visitors.

Preston currently sit 13th in the league table, and come into the match with just one defeat in their last five.

"Things are certainly looking up at the moment. The appointment of Ryan Lowe has been a popular one, with his personality infectious and the brand of football entertaining. North End are more attacking than under the previous regime and have scored some wonderful goals since Lowe came through the door just before Christmas.

"As the league position suggests, a poor start to the season and inconsistent results have left PNE with some ground to make up if they are to challenge the top six this season. There was plenty of discontent prior to Lowe's arrival, but the fan base feels rejuvenated now and there's certainly more belief around the club." 

Lowe was appointed in early December following Frankie McAvoy's sacking, and the 43-year-old has wasted no time introducing a more offensive approach on the pitch. 

"It's the same formation on paper - 3-5-2 - but North End are getting their wing-backs higher up the pitch, committing more bodies forward and creating better opportunities in the final third. North End were an organised unit before Lowe came in, but performances were fairly uninspiring and the Lilywhites could not string a run of results together.

"Lowe has taken the shackles off and PNE have shown great character under him - twice equalising in stoppage time to draw 2-2 and coming from behind to win at Stoke City too. They want to attack and the recent clean sheet at West Brom was a big boost."

The former Plymouth man's arrival has brought the best out of several key players...

"One thing Lowe has done is get important players back to their best and one of those is captain Alan Browne. The number eight has scored twice under Lowe and has performed well of late. Emil Riis is the club's top scorer and is getting into better areas following the arrival of Lowe.

"At the back, Andrew Hughes is a hugely important presence while Ben Whiteman has the ability to control a game in midfield. One key man will miss the game due to international duty - that being Daniel Johnson, who is away with Jamaica."

North End head to The Den on the back of a 2-2 draw with Bristol City, thanks to Emil Riis' 89th minute equaliser. 

"It's never an easy place to come and while Millwall have lost a few games recently, it's worth noting they have all been by one goal. North End will be under no illusions heading into the game and know they will have to perform well and compete to get a result, at a notoriously difficult away ground.

"PNE will head to The Den in confidence though and with no real pressure on them, given their league position. They've done well on these midweek nights recently, especially away from home, so they will back themselves to take something back to Deepdale."

Bambo Diaby signed for North End yesterday, following a succesful trial period.

"PNE were relatively quiet on transfer deadline day, with ex-Barnsley defender Bambo Diaby snapped up following a successful trial period with the club. He became the second addition of the window, following the loan capture of Aston Villa striker Cameron Archer - who scored on debut at West Brom. Both players strengthen Lowe's squad, for sure.

"On the injury front, Tom Barkhuizen and Sean Maguire are both expected to miss out along with Josh Murphy, Declan Rudd and Izzy Brown. As mentioned earlier, Johnson is away with Jamaica."

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