Preston boss Ryan Lowe believes a play-off challenge is a distinct possibility this season

Preston boss Ryan Lowe is optimistic his side can mount a challenge for Championship play-offs this season.
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North End fell to a disappointing 2-1 loss at the hands of Bristol City on Wednesday evening.

That defeat came after two successive victories over West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City.

are still within two points of sixth place.

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After 14 games of new campaign, Lowe – whose men are just two points outside the top six – believes his side could have a “fighting chance” of a promotion tilt.

“It is a possibility,” he said. “I think the whole division has a realistic opportunity to get where you want to.

“We haven’t got a Fulham in the league this season who are firing away, everyone is beating everyone.

“Anyone in the division can beat anyone, I’m not stupid enough also, a couple of losses you can find yourself down in the bottom half.

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“I think we’ve got to try as a club, as a squad and as staff, to keep trying to work as hard as we possibly can to stay in the top half of the division and if we do that in gives us a fighting chance.”

Jordan Storey is back available for today’s clash against Stoke City at Deepdale after missing the game at Bristol due to a one match ban for accumulating five yellow cards.

However, Lowe confirmed that Patrick Bauer will be out of action after having an appendix operation.

“Patrick’s had an appendix operation,” said the Preston boss. “He’s suffered a bit of pain in his appendix, so we got him taken in and assessed so he’s had his appendix out.

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“We don’t really know how long he’s going to be yet but he’s back on the mend now which is a good thing.

“He’s in good spirits, he’s fine, the operation went well, so he’ll be back on the grass in the near future.”

And with the lengthy injury to Troy Parrott, youngers such as Mikey O’Neil could fill in the gaps.

“We’ve got some good youngsters,” he added. “But they’ve got to train hard and work hard on a daily basis to find themselves in the squad. If there’s any illnesses or injuries that get picked up, of course they’re with us for a reason, they’ve signed contracts for a reason, it doesn’t matter how old they are.

“If they’re good enough they’re old enough and I’ll do that whether it’s Mikey O’Neill or any of the other young lads.”