Behind Enemy Lines: Preston North End

PRESTON have enjoyed a decent start to the season under new boss Alex Neil, and currently lie in fourth position in the Championship table.

A 3-1 win away at Birmingham at the weekend will give Preston confidence as they face one of the promoted sides in the second tier.

Millwall’s confidence will also be high after another excellent performance against Leeds saw the Lions take all three points.

Lee Gregory is still suspended, while Tom Elliot won’t return until after the international break.

That means Fred Onyedinma is likely to continue up front with Steve Morison against a side that hasn’t lost at home this season.

Lucas Ball spoke to Preston fan Stephanie Lambert ahead of Saturday's clash at Deepdale.

Twitter: @PNEFansForum

Why do you support Preston?

I'm Preston born and bred, my father is too and he simply wouldn't have any of his girls grow up to support anyone else but North End.

You should always support your hometown club. Seeing Man City or Man United fans that were born here is everything that is wrong with modern-day football.

I'm glad we were raised to support Preston, they are a good club with some great history.

Were you impressed with the appointment of Alex Neil?

I can't say impressed because he is hardly a household name. That being said I was more optimistic about him coming in than I would have been keeping Simon Grayson.

Swapping a manager who has achieved Championship promotion for one that hasn't? Tidy bit of business.

He's young, and although he made a few mistakes with Norwich he did a job and got them to where they needed to be.

I'm hoping he has learnt since those days so that if he does get us to the promised land, he can keep us there.

I have to say recently we have been playing the best football I've seen us play in years and this is down to Alex Neil's style.

So I'm miles more impressed now than when I first heard the news of his arrival.

What are your expectations for the season?

Tough one. If you had asked me before the league had kicked off I would have said retaining Championship status again and anything else is a bonus, realistically.

But now, after seeing how we've played, if we continue this form I think play-offs at a minimum.

I've seen how we can play and when we play like that there is no one in this league we can't beat.

Whether we will keep that up is a different question.

Who will be Preston's danger men?

For pace, Tom Barkhuizen. The lad can run down that wing at a formidable speed. I bet he's up there with the fastest in the league. He's had a hand in many of the goals so far this season and got off the mark himself last match. I feel it's only a matter of time before he starts banging them in.

For the hustle, Jordan Hugill. The lad is a work horse and really seems to get under defenders’ skins, probably because he has such a big frame. He can be a real handful and his hold-up play and aerial ability stands out.

As well as JH, his partner in crime, Sean Maguire. He is new to us this year (after joining in the summer from Irish club Cork City) but seems to be making a name for himself, fast.

He has such a low centre of gravity and can get into places where water couldn't. He seems to make something out of nothing and crops up when you're not really expecting anything. He can make magic happen when you need it the most.

I would have said Ben Pearson before these three but he is out due to injury at the moment and I am unsure if he is back for the game. But if he is, your players best be wearing ankle guards and shin pads.

It's as if he is fresh out of the 60s with his style of play. The 'dust yourself off and go again' kind. He isn't afraid to two-foot anyone and can dominate the centre of the park at times. So if he is back, he is your man.

On Saturday, which Millwall players will Neil's side have to look out for?

I think the one is Jed Wallace really, isn't it? I've seen the lad play a couple of times and he definitely has the abilities of a solid Championship player. I'd definitely take him on if we were offered him. He knows where the goal is and he has great vision, he definitely isn't a player we can afford to let into the game because if he gets going I think we will have our hands full with him.

If we shut him out, I think it would be a big weakness for you guys.

Don't get me started on Aiden O'Brien – I know this lad has some serious trickery up his sleeves! We mustn't be fooled by his fancy feet and we mustn't dive in on him either because from what I've seen his feet are like magnets to the ball. At times he comes out of some challenges with the ball where you had it down as in impossibility.

These are two players I'd like man-marked and isolated if possible.

What is your predicted Preston line-up and formation?

I can't see much change from the weekend.



Woods Huntington, Davies, Earl

Browne Johnson

Barkhuizen Harrop Maguire


Finally, a score prediction?

It's always a tough game against the new boys in the league.

You didn't do badly against Leeds, so I won't write you off, but I'll go with a home win.

The football in me says 1-1 but the Preston in me says we will win. We don't lose many at home but, if we are going to win it, it will be a toughie I think!

Preston 2-1 Millwall

Graphic: @ShedCreative