It’s an all Lancashire affair on Saturday when Preston face third place Bolton Wanderers in a game where Alex Neil’s men are looking to rejuvenate a league campaign which has hardly yet begun.
North End have picked up just four points in their opening five Championship games so far this season without scoring a goal from open play in the competition, so becoming the first team to beat Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United on Tuesday night in the Carabao Cup will hopefully give the team a much needed boost.
Brandon Barker shines ahead of the Bolton clash
After two straight 2-0 defeats in the league against Norwich and Derby, the thought of facing Leeds at Elland Road in the Carabao Cup wasn’t particularly promising for Preston, although it was a chance for Alex Neil to give opportunities to other members of the squad, which he did by making seven changes to the side that lost against the Rams.
Amongst those changes was Manchester City loanee Brandon Barker, who had started one game prior to this against Morecambe in the same competition and scored an excellent goal from 25–yards. On this occasion, he scored from a North End counter attack where he ran from just in front of his own box to the edge of the other before giving Preston a 2-0 advantage.
Before this goal PNE had taken the lead through a Daniel Johnson penalty on his 150th appearance for the club, whilst Ryan Ledson was sent off on the 29th minute for a high and dangerous challenge on Lewis Baker.
In contrast to North End, Bolton have had a positive start to the new Championship season, currently sitting third in the league table behind only Middlesbrough and Leeds.
Over the summer Bolton brought in a number of signings, with the likes of Josh Magennis from Charlton and Yanic Wildschut from Norwich arguably standing out, the pair have scored two goals each so far this season.
Phil Parkinson’s men have had some stand out results thus far in the Championship with the opening day win away from home against newly promoted West Brom being perhaps the most surprising.
Although, it is very early on in the season and Bolton are in fact coming into the game at Deepdale on the back of their first league defeat this season, with the 3-0 loss against Sheffield United at the University of Bolton stadium a result they will be hoping to come back from strongly.
As was the case going into the Leeds game Preston will be without four players for the game against Bolton.
One man who is set to return to the squad is Paul Gallagher who has completed his three match suspension that he picked up in the 2-2 draw against Stoke in which he gave PNE the lead from the penalty spot.
Although, taking his place out of the squad is midfielder Ryan Ledson who will miss North End’s next three games after a straight red card in the win against Leeds on Tuesday night, he tackled strongly with his studs showing in what was an unnecessary foul.
On top of that, the same three players that have been unavailable for the Lilywhites in the last few weeks through injury are still out, with last season’s top scorer Sean Maguire and forward Billy Bodin suffering from long term injuries and Callum Woods not expected to return for Saturday’s game.
Phil Parkinson will be pleased that Bolton have no fresh injuries for the game at Deepdale and he should have a full selection to choose from, Josh Vela has been rumoured to potentially leave before Friday’s loan deadline but as things stand he is still with Wanderers.
Latest Transfer News At Deepdale:
Ahead of this weekend’s game, it was announced on Wednesday that left–back Kevin O’Connor has joined League Two side Crewe Alexandra on a loan deal until 7th January 2019. Kevin hasn’t played for North End since December 2017 and spent the latter part of last season on loan at Fleetwood.
Many PNE fans are calling for another option up front to be brought in before Friday’s transfer deadline, Alex Neil has had very little to say on this matter, suggesting they will have to ‘wait and see’.
After an encouraging performance against Leeds on Tuesday night and two strong performances at home thus far in the Championship, I am backing North End to get their second win of the season against Bolton.
My prediction: PNE 1-0 Bolton
@WPalmerJourno: PNE 1-1 Bolton
Picture Credit: Preston North End