Inside Track: Preston North End

Inside Track: Preston North End

14 January 2022

In a new feature, BCFC.com checks in with a member of the media that covers Blues' upcoming opponent.

Ahead of Saturday's journey to Preston North End, George Hodgson provides the latest on all things the Lilywhites. With his finger on the pulse, whether it is at Deepdale or on the road, the journalist writes about North End for Lancashire Live.

How do you assess Preston's season so far?

As the league position suggests, it's been hit and miss for PNE so far but there is a renewed belief around the club following the appointment of Ryan Lowe. Under Frankie McAvoy, performances were fairly uninspiring, and two derby day defeats proved to be the final nail in the coffin. Two wins from two league games under the new manager and a more attacking approach has lifted the mood.

One Preston North End fan enjoys matchday at Deepdale.

One Preston North End fan enjoys matchday at Deepdale.

What has been Preston’s major highlight of the campaign to date?

Two results and they are both 2-1 away wins. PNE went to an unbeaten Bournemouth in November and stunned the league leaders under the lights. It was a fine team performance and those that made the long midweek trip were rewarded. The other came at Stoke City in the last league outing. It was a first away day under Ryan Lowe and North End came from behind to win, sending a sold-out away end into raptures. Brad Potts scored a thunderous volley and hurled himself into the stand when celebrating before Andrew Hughes headed in the winner. It felt like the beginning of a new era, for sure.

Brad Potts enjoyed his equaliser against Stoke City.

Brad Potts enjoyed his equaliser against Stoke City.

How is Ryan Lowe faring?

Very good. He oozes positivity and has an infectious personality. The Liverpudlian has made a fine impression on the fans with his enthusiasm, drive and passion both in the media and on match day. It feels like the right fit - someone the supporters can identify with - and Lowe wants his team to play an aggressive, attacking brand of football.

Ryan Lowe is yet to drop points as the Preston North End boss.

Ryan Lowe is yet to drop points as the Preston North End boss.

Who is the team’s star player?

Daniel Iversen, on loan from Leicester City, is a shining light between the sticks. He makes big saves and wins you points on his own. Daniel Johnson is a class act in the middle of the park and has looked back to his best of late. Top goal scorer Emil Riis is going through a dry spell in front of net but has the ability to produce wonderful moments out of nothing.

Daniel Iversen is on loan at Deepdale for a second time from the Premier League Foxes.

Daniel Iversen is on loan at Deepdale for a second time from the Premier League Foxes.

That man aside, is there a key player who maybe goes under the radar?

If we are talking under the radar, it has to be Andrew Hughes. He plays at left centre-back and goes about his business superbly, doing the basics well and playing to a consistent level. Ben Whiteman also deserves a mention, he keeps North End ticking in the middle of the park and rarely puts a foot wrong.

29-year-old Andrew Hughes previously represented Newport County and Peterborough United.

29-year-old Andrew Hughes previously represented Newport County and Peterborough United.

In terms of style, what can we expect from Preston?

They should be set up in a 3-5-2 system, with an onus on keeping the ball on the deck and getting wing-backs involved. Lowe wants his midfield to win the battle and play at a high intensity, while linking up with the wide players and moving the ball at speed. The manager has described it as defending with four and attacking with six - he wants plenty of shots at goal too.