Paul Lambert will take charge of Wolves for the first time on Saturday, as he takes a struggling Wanderers side to face in-form Preston.
It’s been a bleak time of late for Wolves fans, who have seen their team go seven games without a win – losing five of those. Manager Walter Zenga paid the price for such a run and caretaker boss Rob Edwards couldn’t halt the slide with a 3-2 defeat against Derby last time out.
They’ve turned to Lambert, a manager who knows what it takes to guide a team to Championship promotion, but also a manager looking to rebuild his reputation after a difficult few years.
Having guided Norwich from League One to the Premier League with successive promotions, and then securing their survival, Lambert took the questionable step of leaving Carrow Road to take over at Aston Villa. After a couple of seasons flirting with Premier League relegation, Lambert was sacked by Villa in February 2015 as they were staring at the drop.
In November last year Lambert took over at Championship side Blackburn Rovers, a club in disarray, and it proved to be a short-lived stay. He kept them up and they finished 15th, but Lambert chose to leave.
As it happens, Lambert’s first game at Blackburn was against Preston at Deepdale, and it will be almost a year to the day when he takes his Wolves side to take on Simon Grayson’s Lilywhites. Blackburn ran out 2-1 winners that day, and Lambert would love a similar outcome.
But that will be no mean feat, given the mighty form that Preston have shown of late. North End have lost just one of their last eight games – winning five of those matches. That one defeat was against league leaders Newcastle, and even that was a game that Preston deserved to win.
So there is a great deal of positivity and confidence at Deepdale right now. Three points off the play-offs, they could perhaps have done without the enforced break that the international programme brought about.
It’s a far cry from a couple of months ago, when some fans were calling for Simon Grayson’s head after a difficult start to the campaign. The deadline day arrivals of Alex Baptiste and Aiden McGeady have made a big difference to their fortunes, and have some Preston supporters believing that a play-off tilt is possible this season.
Bailey Wright and Aiden McGeady are both expected to start for Preston, despite the pair being involved for their national sides over the last couple of weeks.
Alan Browne serves the final match of his suspension, but Simon Grayson can welcome back Ben Pearson, who was banned for their victory over Rotherham last time out.
Wolves back-up keeper Andy Lonergan could feature against his old side in the absence of the injury doubt Carl Ikeme. Lambert with also be without Joe Mason, Prince Oniangue and Ola John for the trip to Deepdale.
David Edwards is also unavailable due to suspension, but England under-21 international Dominic Iorfa is set to start.