Why Preston's former Celtic man poses biggest threat to Sheffield Wednesday
Relegation-haunted Sheffield Wednesday welcome Preston North End to Hillsborough on Saturday looking to bounce back from their midweek defeat against Coventry City.
The 2-0 reverse in the West Midlands was the first under caretaker manager Neil Thompson and leaves the Owls six points adrift of safety in 23rd place in the Sky Bet Championship.
Now Wednesday will be looking to once again kick-start what has been a turbulent campaign as well as avenge the 1-0 defeat against Alex Neil’s side at Deepdale in November, a game that saw Josh Windass red-carded and the start of Tony Pulis’ brief tenure in the Hillsborough managerial hotseat.
The Lilywhites will arrive in South Yorkshire boasting the highest number of away wins – behind leaders Norwich City – in the second tier and currently sit in 11th place following Sunday’s goalless draw with Reading.
We’ve spoken to Dave Seddon, who covers Preston for The Star’s sister title the Lancashire Post, for the lowdown on Neil’s men.
What have you made of Preston's season so far?
It's been mixed, with North End finding consistency hard to come by. Earlier in the season they had this home and away saga - they didn't win at Deepdale until beating Sheffield
Wednesday in November, yet won four on the bounce away. They have tightened up defensively of late.
Who have been the stand-out performers for PNE?
Scott Sinclair is the leading scorer with eight goals, seven of them in away games, so he offers a threat. Alan Browne, the skipper, has been consistent either playing in midfield or at right-back.
Ben Davies is a class act in the centre of defence, while early impressions of new boys Ben Whiteman and Jayson Molumby are good.
Ryan Ledson also had a very good start to the season and has picked up again of late after a bit of a lull.
What would be a successful season for Preston - where do you expect them to finish?
They aim for the play-offs every season and finally getting into the top-six would be a success.
I think they have got some work to do to get there, so upper mid-table might be more realistic.
What style of football (or system) should Wednesday expect to come up against?
Alex Neil tends to play a 4-2-3-1 system or a slight variant of it.
Occasionally he switches to 3-4-1-2 to match up the opposition.
They like to press if the opposition try and play out from the back and are effective on the counter-attack.
Who are the main threats?
Watch out for Scott Sinclair who likes an away goal, while Jayson Molumby is full of energy and running.
What will the score be?
I'm a hopeless tipster but I'll go for a 1-0 Preston win.
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