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John Welsh, Tom Clarke, Kevin Davies and Paul Gallagher troop back to the centre circle after Sheffield United score against Preston at Bramall Lane

John Welsh, Tom Clarke, Kevin Davies and Paul Gallagher troop back to the centre circle after Sheffield United score against Preston at Bramall Lane

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Preston North End have had a disappointing few days after their defeats to Walsall and Sheffield United.

It shows how quickly the fortunes can change – this time last week we were talking about that fine FA Cup victory over Norwich City.

Looking first at the loss to Walsall in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern area final first leg, the 2-0 defeat means North End have a mountain to climb in the away leg.

The second goal which they conceded so late was a real killer and now PNE need to score twice just to pull level.

That is not beyond them by any stretch of the imagination but it will be tough.

They will just have to go for it, show from the first whistle that they are determined to find a way back into the tie.

It might have been that losing to Walsall just knocked the edge off Preston at Sheffield United. Bramall Lane has not been the happiest of grounds for North End down the years and it was probably the last place they wanted to go on the back of a defeat.

I do not think there is much reason to panic in light of the two defeats.

The fact that there seems to be a big outcry after a loss is probably down to the fact that they are quite rare.

While three or four years ago losing was the norm, in the last two seasons a winning mentality has been instilled by Simon Grayson.

They have shown that they can win at places like Bristol City and Peterborough.

So when a defeat comes along, people are not used to them and the reaction can be quite negative.

The season is only just beyond the halfway mark so there are plenty of points to be played for.

North End are handily placed in the table and a win at home to Leyton Orient on Friday night would be a real boost to get them back on the right track.

Of course, we will be seeing Sheffield United again shortly when they come to Deepdale in the FA Cup fourth round.

I doubt either side saw it as a great draw but a team from your own league at home does represent a chance to progress for North End.

Mind you, United went to Queens Park Rangers in the third round and won 3-0. Yes, QPR made several changes but it showed what the Blades are capable of.