The Local Lowdown: Preston North End


We asked opposition expert George Hodgson, Preston North End reporter for the Lancashire Post, to preview tonight's clash from the visitors' point of view...

Preston arrive at St Mary’s seven games unbeaten. What’s contributed to the positive run of form?

The return of Emil Riis has been a major factor, but Ryan Lowe has managed to find some consistency in his selection and individuals have been performing consistently well.

With the 3-4-1-2 shape, North End's boss looks to have found a formula to get behind and the mood around the club has been boosted in recent weeks for sure. Three clean sheets is also a positive, defensively – and of course goes a long way to winning games.

The Lilywhites were struggling for goals earlier in the season, but scored at least twice in each of their five February fixtures. Which players have been key to the upturn in attacking threat?

As mentioned, Riis has been fantastic since he came back from a long-term knee injury. The 2021/22 top scorer's game is all about pace and power, but he looks stronger than ever – hailed a 'physical monster' by one teammate of late.

Behind him, Mads Frokjaer has nailed down a spot in the No 10 position and brings a real touch of class to Preston's team. Will Keane has surely been one of the bargains of last summer too, with 12 goals to his name.

Emil Riis has been influential on his return from injury

How do you rate Preston’s play-off prospects with 11 games to go?

They've really given themselves an opportunity, which is a great thing to have at this stage of the season. Being in relegation trouble is obviously worse, but having little to play for isn't half dull.

That sixth spot looks there for the taking and North End are right in and amongst the chasing pack, so they have just got to give it everything they've got. There are tough tests ahead, but PNE have passed some of those recently. You certainly wouldn't write them off.

This is Ryan Lowe’s second full season in the job. What do the fans make of the work he’s doing?

It's been an up and down time for Lowe since his appointment in December 2021. Things started positively for him and North End headed into last season with plenty of optimism.

But, the 2022/23 campaign was a real mixed bag and this Christmas saw pressure ramped right up on the Preston manager. PNE stuck by him through a dire run of form though and he now looks to have come out the other side.

Manager Ryan Lowe has guided Preston into play-off contention

Lowe has certainly divided opinion and been both loved and hated. Right now, though, things are looking up and he'll have won his fair share of fans back – as Preston push for a top six spot.

How do you see tonight’s game going?

The reverse fixture was a brilliant game, even with the cruel injury-time blow. Preston will take confidence from recent performances, especially their statement win at Coventry.

It's obviously a massive test, on the road, but if North End can show discipline in their own half and be ruthless at the other end, then they'll give themselves a chance.

PNE should head to St Mary's with no fear and I'll back them to take something back to Deepdale – another 2-2!

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