Derby clash with Blackburn could spell change of tactics from Preston North End boss

Preston striker Sean Maguire with club physio Matt Jackson after cutting his mouth in the Bristol City game
Preston striker Sean Maguire with club physio Matt Jackson after cutting his mouth in the Bristol City game

Preston boss Alex Neil says his approach to Saturday’s derby clash at Blackburn will differ from that he took in the draw with Bristol City.

Neil clipped PNE’s wings against the Robins, leaving out Tom Barkhuizen and fielding a solid midfield.

His thinking was to take hold of the centre of the pitch, something which had served them well in past meetings.

“The Bristol City game won’t have any bearing on the next one whatsoever,” said Neil.

“That is one which we will look at individually and it might be very different in terms of how we set up.”

Against City, Neil played Ryan Ledson in the holding midfield role in place of the suspended Ben Pearson – he is still banned for the trip to Ewood Park.

He also brought in Daniel Johnson for his first start in seven weeks, with Brad Potts and Paul Gallagher tucked in on the wings.

Alan Browne operated in the No.10 role behind striker Sean Maguire.

Said Neil: “I thought Ryan came in and did well in that deeper role.

“We needed to stiffen up the middle of the pitch.

“When you have got Ben Pearson in there, he is such a key player for us that he can do that role really comfortably.

“Ryan is still a young lad so we needed to put DJ in there to give him some support.

“We had Brad Potts tucked in to make that middle area solid – it worked to a certain extent.

“Towards the end we threw caution to the wind a bit and opened the game up.

“We ended up 4-4-2 with Jayden Stockley up there and we had that late chance from Alan Browne which flashed past the post.”

Stockley joined Maguire up front for the final few minutes, the Irishman having been in the wars earlier.

Maguire took a bang in the face which left him with blood coming from his mouth.

The striker had to be patched up by physio Matt Jackson and wear the spare ‘blood shirt’ with no number for the rest of the first half. He got through the remainder of the game unscathed, though, and there is not a fitness issue for the Blackburn game.

PNE skipper Tom Clarke missed the Bristol City game with an injury picked up the week before at Millwall.

Said Neil: “Tom got a knock right at the end of the Millwall game and was struggling at the weekend.

“We will assess him this week and see where he’s at.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, Callum Robinson was able to join his team-mates for training yesterday for the first time in three months.

Robinson had surgery on a hamstring tendon injury he damaged in the 4-1 win over Blackburn in November.