Let’s carry on where we left off says Preston North End boss Ryan Lowe

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Ryan Lowe hopes Preston North End’s trip to Stoke City today can signal a return to normality after the Covid disruption before and during Christmas.

The Lilywhites head to the bet365 Stadium (3pm) for their first game in more than three weeks.

Three games have been postponed, the first at Millwall because of Covid issues in the Londoners’ squad, and then the Christmas fixtures against Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion after the virus did the rounds of the PNE dressing room.

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It certainly feels like an age since Lowe oversaw his only game as PNE manager, the 2-1 win over Barnsley on December 11.

Preston’s last game was the victory over Barnsley last month when Daniel Johnson (above) got the winning goalPreston’s last game was the victory over Barnsley last month when Daniel Johnson (above) got the winning goal
Preston’s last game was the victory over Barnsley last month when Daniel Johnson (above) got the winning goal

Lowe said: “I suppose I can boast a 100% record so far!

“In football every day has its challenges, not just when you’re in the situation we’re all in at the moment.

“But this last couple of weeks has been a big challenge and we’ve had to deal with it the best we can.

“At times it has felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall when the messages were coming through that someone has tested positive or someone had been a close contact.

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“I was terrified every time our physio Matt Jackson came into my office because I was wondering whether it was good or bad news.

“The Covid situation aside, I’ve loved every minute of it here.

“I know we have only played one game so far but the lads are buying into it.

“Even on Thursday when we had our first day back, we got some good stuff across to the players and we’ve continued to work well since then.

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“I’m looking forward to this game, it’s a good stadium 
and Stoke are an ex-Premier League team. They’ve got some fantastic players but so have we.”

North End will be backed by 1,600 of their supporters in the Potteries, the last few tickets of the allocation snapped up on New Year’s Eve.

After no live football to watch over Christmas, it is a chance for the fans to blow off the cobwebs and get behind Lowe’s men.

Said Lowe: “Hopefully it will be a cracking game for them to watch.

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“The fans saw the way we wanted to go about things when we played Barnsley.

“We’ve since given more information to the players about what we want and we want them to show that to the supporters.”

Lowe’s team selection will naturally have to take into account the Covid situation – whether anyone who tested positive is having any after-effects.

Daily testing is still being done so new cases could emerge despite strict protocols being followed at the training ground.

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On the fitness front, Tom Barkhuizen and Matthew Olosunde were back in training last week after injury.

Barkhuizen had been missing for a month after hurting his ankle against Fulham, while Olosunde pulled his groin in the defeat at Blackburn at the start of December.

Meanwhile, North End have rearranged their visit to West Bromwich for Wednesday, January 26, with an 8pm kick-off at the Hawthorns.

The Sheffield United clash at Deepdale will be played on Tuesday, January 18, with kick-off at 7.45pm.

Tickets bought for the original scheduled dates remain valid.