PNE’s unbeaten run of nine games came to an end on Saturday with a 3-0 defeat to Birmingham.
North End had seven first team players unavailable for the game, with Ben Pearson and captain Tom Clarke unavailable on the day alongside the five long-term casualties.
Ben Davies was also only fit enough for the bench, as the Lilywhites conceded three goals in the second-half, leaving them four points off the bottom three.
The biggest talking point from that game and going into the Nottingham Forest game on Saturday is the goalkeeping situation.
For much of this season and the last campaign, Declan Rudd and Chris Maxwell have been in and out of the starting XI with neither really claiming the number one spot.
Declan Rudd had recently come back into the squad after Maxwell was sent off against Ipswich, but Rudd conceded early into the second half by letting the ball roll slowly under his legs and into the back of the net without any pressure.
This gives Alex Neil another decision to make going into the game on Saturday against Nottingham Forest.
Saturday’s opponents find themselves in fifth position and unbeaten in seven Championship games, the last time they lost a league game was against Norwich, who are currently top of the league.
In fact, they have lost the fewest amount of games in the league, with Brentford being the only other team to beat them this season in the Championship.
North End have only won once away from home this season, as they beat Bristol City for the sixth time in a row.
The amount of injuries to first team players will make this game very difficult for Preston, especially going into the busy festive period.
Josh Harrop and Billy Bodin are both still struggling with long term ACL injuries which may keep them both out of action until next season.
Last season’s top scorer Sean Maguire came of injured just minutes after coming on for the Republic Of Ireland in the most recent international break.
It was yet another hamstring problem and he will be out until the new year.
Midfielder Daniel Johnson is also out, he will be unavailable for another 3-4 weeks.
During the 4-1 victory over Blackburn, PNE’s top goal scorer Callum Robinson picked up a hamstring injury after scoring his tenth goal of the season, he will be out for a minimum of three months.
Ben Davies did not take part in the defeat to Birmingham last time out through a knock which meant he was only fit enough for the bench, Alex Neil will be hoping he can start the game against Forest on Saturday.
He will also be desperate for Ben Pearson and captain Tom Clarke to return from their injuries which kept them out of the Birmingham game, it has yet to be confirmed whether either of them will be fit enough for the weekend.
Left-back Josh Earl came off at half time at St Andrews with a pulled quad, the extent of this injury is currently unknown.
That means the worst case scenario for the Nottingham Forest game would see nine first team players out, the best for Alex Neil to hope for is that Earl, Clarke, Davies and Pearson are back, with the other five all being long term casualties.
Clarke Huntington Davies Hughes
Barkhuizen Browne Barker
Nottingham Forest 2-0 PNE
I am usually quite optimistic which is why this is a rare prediction of defeat for North End, but this is set to be a very tough game.
With no injury problems at all this would always be a difficult game away from home against a side who have lost just twice all season, so taking into account the injuries that Alex Neil is currently dealing with I can’t bring myself to be that optimistic.
However, Preston were able to beat Nottingham Forest at the City Ground 3-0 last season and there will be over 1000 away supporters hoping to see a repeat of that on Saturday.
Picture Credit: Preston North End FC, Dave Kendall