Tom’s top-four test

PNE skipper Tom Clarke is looking forward to a challenging spell
PNE skipper Tom Clarke is looking forward to a challenging spell
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Tom Clarke says there will be no fear on Preston’s part as they head into a run of games against the Championship’s top four.

The way the fixtures have fallen has made it a demanding couple of weeks ahead for the Lilywhites.

They go to fourth-place Brighton on Saturday, then host leaders Huddersfield at Deepdale a week tonight.

A trip to Norwich follows on October 21, before North End face Newcastle United twice in four days.

Deepdale skipper Clarke sees it as a good challenge, as they resume action after the international break on the back of a four-game unbeaten run.

Clarke told the Evening Post: “These games are going to be difficult but we have been going well and have put some good results together.

“Brighton away will be a good first test after the international break.

“They did well last season and have their sights set on doing so again this year.

“We’ve been working on them in training this week and we will have a game-plan.

“Like last month, we have a spell of games close together, with us playing a couple of midweek games.

“One of the games is in the cup and it is great that we are still in that competition too.

“We have got a good squad to cope with the matches as we showed last month.

“The gaffer was able to make changes between games and use different formations.

“We had that kick up the backside at Brentford and rallied after that.

“The win at Bournemouth was a great response to what happened against Brentford, we beat Wigan, then we had the draw with Birmingham and the Aston Villa victory.”

The 2-0 win against Villa will certainly have given Preston plenty of confidence.

Although Villa have found Championship life tough since being relegated, they are still regarded as one of the division’s big scalps.

Said Clarke: “That was a good result and performance.

“There had been games this season where we had played well but not got the result.

“We got both in that game and the three points were very well deserved.

“Villa might not have found their feet yet but the money they have spent on their squad suggests they will.

“So to beat them and play as well as we did, was very pleasing.”

Clarke was nursing a groin injury during the closing stages of the Villa game, so the international break came at a good time for him in terms of recovering from it.

“I had a bit of a tight groin but managed to get through to the end,” said the 28-year-old.

“What these international breaks allow is some recovery time, a break from the busy schedule.”

Meanwhile, a North End XI were beaten 2-0 by Fleetwood at Poolfoot Farm yesterday.

Simon Makienok, Eoin Doyle, Alan Browne, Ben Pringle and Ben Davies were among those to feature.