There is plenty to smile about at Deepdale these days. Preston have followed up their League One Play-Off success last season by proving that they very much belong at Championship level. The draw away at big-spending promotion hopefuls Derby on Tuesday night illustrated that point and edged Simon Grayson’s side closer to their goal of securing their Championship status.
It is success built on a rock-solid defence. The clean sheet against Derby was their 13th shutout of the season and they have conceded less than a goal a game on average across the season – an impressive record for a newly-promoted club.
But Saturday’s opponents Huddersfield inflicted one of the worst days of Preston’s season when the two sides met on Boxing Day, breaching the Lilywhites defence three times as they ran out 3-1 winners. This is a chance for redemption for Preston and manager Grayson has urged his players to show more belief in themselves at this level.
“We have to drum it in to them at times that they need to have even more belief, especially at the top end of the pitch,” Grayson told the Preston website.
“They need to go and express themselves, be braver on the ball, take people on and get your shots off.
“I don’t think the players feel inferior to the opposition, it’s just having that belief that you can go and do something out of nothing at times.
“The players should take confidence game by game, they’re improving all the time.
“We are a team, we do everything as a team, we have individuals who can do something out of nothing but they do the other side of it too, they fill in and run for each other and that’s what we use, that spirit of the team.”
That belief should be growing after an impressive recent run which has seen North End lose just one of their last six games. Last home game however was a disappointment as Brentford stormed to a 3-1 victory at Deepdale, something that Grayson and his men will want to put behind them quickly.
Preston have an impressive record against Huddersfield to fall back on and haven’t lost at home to the Yorkshire side since 1969, an unbeaten run of 13 games at home in all competitions.
Huddersfield have hit a sticky run. Winless in their last three, David Wagner’s side sit seven points above the relegation zone and will want to pick up victories again soon to prevent the pressure coming on from the teams below.
They are a resilient side though, having scored more goals in the last 15 minutes than any other Championship side this season. The Terriers are heavily reliant on top scorer Nakhi Wells, who has ten league goals this campaign, while Harry Bunn has now scored in consecutive league games for the first time in his career.
On-loan West Brom keeper Anders Lindegaard is set to make his home debut for Preston after starting against Derby on Tuesday. Midfielder Ben Pearson is suspended while Liam Grimshaw and Jermaine Beckford are out with knee injuries. Tom Clarke is set to feature again after returning at Derby while Eoin Doyle is in contention to return to the starting lineup.
Huddersfield swooped for a deadline day deal to bring in Elvis Manu on loan from Brighton and will look to the Dutch striker to spark an upsurge in recent form. Jordy Hiwula has returned from a loan spell at Wigan, while fellow forward Joe Lolley is hopeful of a return after missing the defeat to Cardiff. Tommy Smith is available again after suspension but captain Mark Hudson begins a two-game ban. The Terriers will also be without Emyr Hughes for the next four weeks, while Sean Scannell and Ishmael Miller are both still sidelined.
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