Preston boss to rotate squad in bid to reach FA Cup fifth round

Daryl Horgan could start for PNE at Sheffield United in the FA Cup tomorrow
Daryl Horgan could start for PNE at Sheffield United in the FA Cup tomorrow

Alex Neil is set to shuffle the Preston pack as he looks to get the better of Sheffield United tomorrow for the second time in a month.

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North End head to Bramall Lane for an all-Championship clash in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

In December, they beat the Blades 1-0 at Deepdale in the league.

PNE manager Neil rotated his squad in the last round at Wycombe, a 5-1 victory seeing that decision pay dividends.

Mindful of the fact they play Nottingham Forest in a league game on Tuesday, he will make changes.

Neil told the Post: “We are in a position at the moment where I think there is not a lot between a lot of the players.

“We have got what I would deem to be my strongest XI but it fluctuates depending on the opposition.

“We are getting to the stage now where a lot of lads who hadn’t been playing are now showing their true worth.

“Some of them have been performing very well, hence them working their way into the team.

“We’ve got other guys who are champing at the bit too, so I’ve got choices.”

As at Wycombe, Declan Rudd is set to be between the posts, while Daryl Horgan is another who is likely to get his chance – he was on target in the third round.

There is a strong chance that Louis Moult will make his full debut after coming off the bench in the 1-1 draw against Birmingham last week.

Said Neil: “I thought that Louis gave us an element of sharpness last week, he got quite a few touches in a short period of time.

“He will be dangerous for us, his movement is really good and he’s quite elusive.

“Louis is very different to Jordan Hugill, in that Jordan wants to feel physical contact whereas Louis plays on the blindside and he makes wee darts to get behind.

“It’s been a bit frustrating for Louis, and for us, that we have had to wait a couple of weeks to get him ready.”

PNE head to Yorkshire on the back of a run of one defeat in 13 games.

While content with that consistency, the six draws in the run provide an element of frustration for Neil.

He said: “I will be looking for a better performance than last week.

“We have lost one in 13 and the main task is to turn the draws into wins.”

Meanwhile, PNE left-back Kevin O’Connor has joined Fleetwood on loan for the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old has found first-team chances hard to come by since last summer’s move from Cork City.

He has fallen back down the pecking order recently after Greg Cunningham and Josh Earl returned to action from long-term injuries.

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