Preston North End aim to slow Millwall's play-off push at Deepdale

Preston North End face a Good Friday clash with a Millwall side who still have hopes of reaching the play-offs.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 12:30 pm

The South London outfit sit four points outside the top six, a 4-1 victory over Barnsley last Saturday giving their chances a kick-start.

Before that they had slipped off the pace after a run of one win in six, that coming after five victories on the bounce – that summing up how unpredictable the Championship can be.

Nothing could separate PNE and Millwall in the reverse fixture at The Den on February 1, the sides sharing a goalless draw. That said, the Lilywhites could have won it had Ben Whiteman’s second-half penalty not come back off the post.

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Millwall defender Jake Cooper challenges Preston North End striker Cameron Archer in February's clash at The Den

Ryan Lowe predicts another uncompromising clash at Deepdale, with the Lilywhites manager full of respect for his counterpart Gary Rowett.

Lowe said: “Millwall are a different kind of team, they play forward a lot and have some good individual players who can be a threat.

"When we played them last time at their place, we were even-stevens. They are now four points ahead of us after going on a good run after that.

"Gary has done a fantastic job at Millwall and I think he is a fantastic manager. He does things right, goes about his business right.

"I hope he continues to do a fantastic job but only once we’ve played them on Friday!

"We will respect a solid Millwall side and we know we’re going to have to work hard.”

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Rowett’s big selection issue for the visit to Lancashire centres on experienced skipper Shaun Hutchinson.

The defender hasn’t played since the end of February because of injury but is now fit for selection.

With Millwall coming off the back of the victory over Barnsley, Rowett must decide whether to change a winning side.

Rowett said: “When you get to this stage of the season you realise there are very few training days and matches left.

“There’s been a good atmosphere and players are raring to go after last weekend.

“It’s really about who’s available for the game, first and foremost. There’s a good chance Shaun Hutchinson will be involved.

“As for starting the game that’s different decision-making processes. Do we want to disrupt a winning team, do we want to make changes?

"Hutchy is a player that’s been in the team nearly every time he’s been fit. He’s an important player for us but he’s been out a while.

“We have to take that all into consideration. I won’t give too much away in terms of team selection but he’ll certainly be available if he trains all week.”

Victory over Barnsley came courtesy of goals from Dan McNamara (2), Oliver Burke and Benik Afobe.

McNamara’s double were his first goals in a Millwall shirt, the academy product having established in the squad over the 12 months.

In the first-half of last season, the wing-back was a team-mate of Ali McCann at St Johnstone having had a loan spell north of the border.

Top scorer at Millwall is Afobe, the striker on loan from Bristol City having scored 10 goals in the Championship.

That has him ahead of Tom Bradshaw who has eight, and six-goal Jed Wallace.