Norwich City providing all the Preston North End motivation for Watford and Huddersfield Town clashes

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe greets Norwich City manager David WagnerPreston North End manager Ryan Lowe greets Norwich City manager David Wagner
Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe greets Norwich City manager David Wagner | CameraSport - Rich Linley
PNE face Watford and Huddersfield Town before Norwich City come to Deepdale

The importance of the next two Championship matches is not lost on Preston North End’s camp.

Ryan Lowe’s side head to Watford on Saturday, for Gentry Day, before hosting Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night. The Lilywhites will look to bounce back from the narrow defeat, suffered at Birmingham City last weekend.

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Losing at St Andrew’s left PNE in eighth spot, five points adrift of sixth placed Norwich City - who have played one game more. After facing Watford and Huddersfield, Preston welcome the Canaries to Deepdale. It has the potential to be a massive match on home soil.

"To see the results go for you, with nobody winning or gaining extra points was a little bit pleasing," said Lowe. "But, it is minus a game. I know we have one in hand, but it's against a good team in Southampton. I think, what we need to do, is stay in the mix until Norwich - one, two, three or four points behind them. Other teams are around there... Coventry, Hull, Middlesbrough. I think they play each other at some point, so you need them to lose points. It is not in our hands, as such, because Norwich have got more points.

“But, if we can give ourselves a fighting chance and be in with a chance when we play Norwich - then it gives us an opportunity to have a real good challenge at it. I think the message, to my players, will be to stay in the mix - whatever points that is, behind Norwich. And then we play Norwich and who knows? Listen, they are a good outfit who perform very well, but it would be a game we'd have to win, to give ourselves a really good chance."

Those thoughts were echoed by defender Andrew Hughes, who left Birmingham City with plenty of frustration - but knew it was key to move on quickly. The Welshman has been part of PNE squads to fall short, in pursuit of the play-offs, over the years. He knows that two positive results will set up a huge 90 minutes at Deepdale.

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"Yeah, it is,” said Hughes. “Firstly, we have just got to do our job to get to that Norwich game and then that will take care of itself. I think we learned a lot from last year and even the rocky spell, this year. We want to make the most of this year, though. We don't want to put ourselves in the position, then tail away and it just comes to a season of nothing again. So yeah, we have really important fixtures coming up now. It's a great chance for us and we've gone on a long-game unbeaten run before, so why can't we do it at the business end of the season?"

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