Preston North End’s opponents Charlton will have to get over Conor Gallagher loan blow
Preston North End and Charlton Athletic lock horns at Deepdale this weekend and plenty has changed since they last met in November.
The Lilywhites went top of the table thanks to a 1-0 win at The Valley, that clash a Sunday lunchtime offering in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Alex Neil’s men have slipped since then, winning only three games in the meantime.
The form of the Addicks has not been great either, winning only one of their 12 matches since North End paid a visit.
It is a tailspin which they quickly need to get out of if they want to avoid being dragged into a relegation fight.
Being just five points and three places above the drop zone suggests they are in or around such a battle.
Off the pitch, Charlton are in a much happier place than they were due to a change of ownership.
Roland Duchatelet, a deeply unpopular figure among Addicks fans, sold the club at the end of November to East Street Investments.
Matt Southall is the new chairman and at present is trying to secure manager Lee Bowyer on a long-term deal.
Bowyer’s immediate focus is on trying to get his side pushing up the table.
Their one victory since October came on Boxing Day against Bristol City.
Last week though, they held league leaders West Bromwich Albion to a 2-2 draw at The Valley.
Josh Davison and Tom Lockyer found the net for the London side who twice equalised in the game.
That proved to be the last game in a Charlton shirt for midfielder Conor Gallagher.
The 19-year-old was on a season-long loan from Chelsea but got recalled by the Blues this week and loaned out to Swansea City.
That switch will reunite him with Swans boss Steve Cooper who was his coach in the England Under-17s set-up.
Losing Gallagher is a blow, the all-action teenager having started 25 of their 27 league games, scoring six goals.
Bowyer said: “I’m disappointed. I didn’t see this coming if I’m honest which makes it harder to take.
“Conor’s been a credit and a pleasure to work with.
“He’s scored us goals and helped us win games. For someone so young, he’s a great talent to work with and I wish him all the best for his future.”
Charlton’s visit sees a quick Deepdale return for Andre Green. He spent the first half of the season with PNE on loan from Aston Villa.
That loan was cut short at the start of the month and Villa loaned him straight back out to Charlton who had been interested in him during the summer.
Green started the draw with West Bromwich, as he did the FA Cup tie against the same opponents the week before.
Charlton’s leading scorer is Macauley Bonne with eight goals, while Lyle Taylor – currently sidelined by a thigh injury – has seven.
Taylor’s future is up in the air after he turned down the offer of a new contract.