Preston looking for third win on the spin when they face Coventry City
Alex Neil will be targeting a rare sequence of three wins on the bounce when Preston North End face Coventry City at Deepdale tonight.
Just three times in Neil’s time managing the Lilywhites have they strung together three successive victories in the Championship.
The 1-0 wins over Bristol City and Derby County either side of Christmas have given PNE the chance to make it a trio of successes.
Doing so would be a welcome way to end what has been a challenging 2020.
North End last won three in a row in the first-half of last season when they beat Blackburn, Charlton and Huddersfield.
In the 2018/19 campaign they beat Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Birmingham in March 2019.
Back in Neil’s first season in charge, PNE beat QPR, Burton and Sheffield United in the run-up to Christmas 2017.
It’s greater consistency this season which Neil yearns for, results having been a mixed bag all the way through.
Could they get a healthy points return from the Coventry and Nottingham Forest games – Forest visit Deepdale on Saturday – it would push them into the top half of the table.
Neil looks likely to be without Scott Sinclair for the next couple of games at least, the winger having been subbed during the Derby game due to a hamstring issue.
It is hoped that the strain will be measured at the lower end of the scale when he has it scanned.
In terms of replacing him, one option is to move Sean Maguire wide and bring in Emil Riis or Jayden Stockley to lead the attack.
Josh Harrop is another consideration, with a lot of his appearances coming on that left side.
North End will check on the fitness of Brad Potts and Andrew Hughes who have been missing lately.
Potts has sat out the last three games because of a calf strain, with Hughes missing the Bristol City and Derby victories – Josh Earl proving an assured deputy at left-back in both matches.
A player who will be keen to be involved at some point this evening is Tom Bayliss.
The midfielder was signed from Coventry in August 2019 for a fee of more than £1m after playing 73 times in the Sky Blues’ first-team.
Opportunities have been thinner on the ground since his move to Deepdale although he’s been involved a lot more in recent weeks.
Bayliss has come off the bench in seven of the last eight games, the one match he stayed sat down for being the 2-2 draw with Wycombe.
In the last three games he has been Paul Gallagher’s replacement in the second half, providing fresh legs.