Preston North End v Norwich City: The Lowdown
Can Norwich City strengthen their promotion chances at Preston North End? Get in the mood with video, quotes, predicted line-ups and squad news.
• PRESTON TEAM NEWS
North End midfielders Ben Pearson and Alan Browne are both being monitored closely after having to come off during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Bolton.
Goalkeeper Connor Ripley could need surgery though after suffering an ankle injury during a practice match, leaving Norwich academy product Declan Rudd as the senior keeper option.
• NORWICH TEAM NEWS
Mario Vrancic has been ruled out for three weeks with ankle ligament damage suffered during Sunday’s 3-0 home win over Ipswich but Todd Cantwell should shake off his own ankle knock.
Moritz Leitner (ankle) and Timm Klose (knee) are both back in training and have travelled to the north-west but tonight’s game is likely to come too soon. However, City are staying in the area as they have a game at Bolton on Saturday and both could come into contention at the weekend if needed.
Carlton Morris (ankle) and Louis Thompson (knee) are both likely to be targeting next season after new injury setbacks last month.
• FROM THE DUGOUTS
Daniel Farke (Norwich): “We are unbelievably respectful because especially this next game at Preston will be the most difficult game we will have in recent weeks.
“We had outstanding games when we played the leaders at Leeds or West Brom or Sheffield United, a big derby for us (against Ipswich), games where it was pretty emotional and the spotlight was on us.
“Now we go to Preston, who play always with a big aggression level and a high intensity, a good side with some really good footballers. Last season they nearly had a late push into the play-offs, meanwhile they also improved a lot in the table, just one loss in the last seven games in the league.
“So they are in decent form and they have no pressure from being involved in the relegation battle, no, they have a chance of again making a late push for the play-offs.
“I think they will be highly motivated, will have one more day to recover and our game against Ipswich was pretty exhausting from the physical and the mental point of view.”
Alex Neil (Preston), speaking to the Lancashire Evening Post: “As I’ve said before I’m very grateful for the opportunity they gave me because I was pretty much unknown at the time.
“Obviously they (Norwich) are a good side. It’s funny how things change in football because when we went there to play them, Daniel (Farke) was under pressure from the fans and now he’s probably seen as the saviour. He should be very pleased with what he’s done there.”
• KEY MAN – ALAN BROWNE
The 23-year-old Republic of Ireland international midfielder has added a genuine goal threat to his game, scoring 11 and setting up another four during 27 league matches so far this season, including the opener during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Bolton.
• OPPOSITION BOSS – ALEX NEIL
Appointed Norwich boss in January 2015 when he was still just 33 years old, having led Hamilton to the top flight in Scotland. Had an immediate impact and led the Canaries on a glorious run to the Championship play-off final, sealing victory over Middlesbrough at Wembley.
Decent start to the Premier League, including a 2-1 win at Manchester United, tailed away to relegation and the following season saw the Scot struggle to shake off the hangover.
Having been top of the table in September, Neil was sacked in March 2017 with his team nine points outside the top six and without a win in five games.
Took over at North End that summer and led the Lancashire club on a late charge for the play-offs, eventually finishing seventh and just two points adrift. Poor start to this campaign left his team in the relegation zone after 12 matches but they’ve rallied to push into mid-table.
• LEAGUE FORM
PNE: WDWWD (14th)
CITY: WWDWD (1st)
• PREDICTED LINE-UPS
Preston (4-1-4-1): Rudd; Fisher, Storey, Davies, Hughes; Pearson; Gallagher, Potts, Browne, Barkhuizen; Maguire.
Norwich (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann (C), Godfrey, Lewis; Tettey, Trybull; Buendia, Stiepermann, Hernandez; Pukki
• REFEREE – GEOFF ELTRINGHAM
The County Durham official has shown 90 yellow and four red cards during 26, mostly Championship, matches so far this season.
That included City’s 0-0 draw at Hull in November, when no cards were shown, and a 1-1 draw at Derby in October when three players were booked.
It will be the official’s fourth Preston game of the season though, taking charge of a 3-0 defeat at Leeds in September, a 1-0 win at Bristol City in November and a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa at Deepdale in December.
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