Double Scottish cup winners are opposition for Preston North End tonight

Former Deepdale favourite Callum Davidson will roll out the welcome mat to Preston North End when they face his St Johnstone side in the first game of their Scotland trip this evening.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 8:00 am

Davidson played 181 times and scored 22 goals for PNE in a seven-year stay.

He has taken to management well, guiding the Saints to the Scottish FA Cup and Scottish League Cup double last season.

Winning the FA Cup has landed Davidson’s men a place in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Sean Maguire scored twice for Preston against Bamber Bridge

So they should be strong opponents for North End who are spending the week north of the border.

The Lilywhites had their first two training sessions at St Andrew’s yesterday after arriving on Sunday.

Head coach Frankie McAvoy told PNE’s iFollow: “It is important we get everyone together like this and enjoy some time away.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work to do and two tough games to play against St Johnstone and Celtic.

“St Johnstone won both cups in Scotland last season so we know what to expect from them.

“After that, we will prepare for Celtic on Saturday.

“We’ll hopefully get a look at the newer boys in the games and get plenty of work into all of the squad.”

North End’s first friendly last Saturday saw them beat Bamber Bridge 8-3 at Euxton.

It had to go behind closed doors when Brig’s pitch was left waterlogged by heavy rain.

The fact that move denied a 1,300 sell-out crowd their first taste of live football for many months, was frustrating for McAvoy.

At McDiarmid Park tonight (7pm) there will be a crowd of 1,000 but no away fans.

That is the limit placed on the Saints by Scottish Government restrictions, their season ticket holders having gone into a ballot for PNE’s visit.

The limit at Celtic at the weekend is 2,000, with again a ballot among their season ticket holders being used to distribute places.

As McAvoy did against Brig, he will seek to use a high number of his squad against Davidson’s outfit.

Sean Maguire scored two of the goals on Saturday and will be looking to follow those up in another run-out.

Patrick Bauer and Declan Rudd both played 45 minutes against Brig, that an important step forward after long-term injuries.

Six first-team players were missing at the weekend, Alan Browne, Andrew Hughes, Ched Evans, Izzy Brown, Paul Huntington and Matthew Olosunde.

Most of them should see action while in Scotland, McAvoy having not risked them on Saturday.