PNE’s Holmes back on ‘home’ turf

Lee Holmes will be in PNE's squad against his former club Nottingham Forest
Lee Holmes will be in PNE's squad against his former club Nottingham Forest
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Preston North End midfielder Lee Holmes will be returning to his football roots for Friday night’s FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest.

Holmes was in Forest’s academy for five years before joining their arch rivals Derby County – the Rams gave him his first-team debut when he was just 15.

So the fourth-round visit to the City Ground is one which has some extra spice for the 26-year-old.

“The village where my parents brought me up is halfway between Nottingham and Derby,” Holmes told the Evening Post.

“It is a place called South Normanton, and it’s half and half in terms of people supporting Forest or Derby.

“I grew up in the academy at Forest. I was there from when I was eight through to 13. Then I went to Derby and got my big chance there.

“But Forest are a club who I have a lot of respect for and our game there is one I’m looking forward to.

“The City Ground is a great stadium to play at and there should be a good atmosphere in there on Friday night, with us taking a lot of supporters.

“One of the Forest players, Dan Harding, is someone I know really well. We were team-mates at Southampton and Dan is a good friend of mine.

“Another twist to the game is that Billy Davies is back with Forest. He was here at Preston a few years ago, before my time.

“But looking in from the outside, he did a good job with back-to-back play-offs.”

North End will have to do without Kevin Davies for the tie after a three-game ban for his red card against Coventry was confirmed.

An appeal against the dismissal was rejected by the FA yesterday afternoon.

Davies will also miss the games against Bradford and Notts County.

With PNE and Forest well placed in their respective division’s promotion pack, Holmes predicts a good battle at the City Ground. He said: “Both teams are in a good place at the moment and will be feeling confident going into the game.

“Forest have their sights set on trying to get into the Premier League, and our aim is to get promoted to the Championship.

“Playing a club from the division above isn’t something we are afraid of. We showed in the two games against Ipswich that we can handle it.

“In the first game at Portman Road we put in a great performance and could have won it. As it was, we got a draw and finished the job off at home.

“Winning on Friday night and getting into the fifth round is a big incentive because the chances increase of drawing one of the big hitters.

“As a player, the fifth round with Southampton is the furthest that I have gone in the FA Cup.”

The Forest game is on Friday to avoid clashing with Notts County’s home match with Walsall the following day.

Holmes said: “Playing on Friday hasn’t made much difference to our preparations.

“We have just moved everything forward a day – what we normally do in training on a Friday we will do on Thursday.

“With us having the league game at Bradford next Tuesday, we will get an extra day’s recovery.”