Four key battles that could decide Preston North End’s Championship clash at Millwall

Andrew Hughes will have his hands full with Jed Wallace on Saturday
Andrew Hughes will have his hands full with Jed Wallace on Saturday

Preston North End head to Millwall on Saturday looking to stretch their unbeaten Championship run to eight games.

Below we take a look at the key battles that could determine who comes away with the three points.

Murray Wallace vs Tom Barkhuizen

Murray Wallace is naturally a centre-back by trade but recently he’s found himself playing more at left-back due to the injury to James Meredith. His good form in this position means he will probably be facing Tom Barkhuizen in a battle of power versus pace. Wallace is very much built like a traditional centre-back, so in order for Barkhuizen to have any success he will need to utilise his speed to full effect to create space. Wallace isn’t fast, however, he has relative success at stopping players from dribbling past him so it could be an interesting battle between the two.

Lee Gregory vs Ben Davies

If Ben Davies continues his recent form, he can nullify Millwall’s top scorer Lee Gregory. No other Preston player has blocked as many shots as Davies this season and he reads the game almost as well as Ben Pearson. Gregory shouldn’t be quickly dismissed, however. His experience in lower league football shows he knows how to fight a physical battle so may leave Davies battered and bruised after the 90 minutes. He also has a good goal-scoring record but Davies’ composure should help Preston here.

Jed Wallace vs Andrew Hughes

This battle is key to Preston’s defence as Jed Wallace is Millwall’s focal point for their attack. He is a very tidy player with good tight control that could cause a lot of issues for Hughes. Wallace is naturally a right-midfielder so a lot of Millwall’s play goes along the right-wing. Hughes, however, has adapted well to the league this season and has found his feet at Championship level. If he can contain Wallace, Preston may have nullified Millwall’s attack. Wallace could easily drift more centrally, however, if he isn’t finding enough luck against Hughes.

Shaun Hutchinson vs Sean Maguire

Here we have another classic battle of little versus large. Shaun Hutchinson, like Murray Wallace, is a traditional centre-back. He’s big, strong and knows how to tackle. Maguire is going to have to rely on his small frame and movement in order to slide past him but there is a danger he could be bullied out of the game. Hutchinson has the most interceptions at Millwall and is a very capable, physical centre-back. He would make Maguire feel like he’s been in a game so the Irishman may have to see himself re-positioned to the wings.