Preston North End and Swansea City both targeting a play-off push as they prepare to meet at Deepdale
Preston North End and Swansea City meet at Deepdale tomorrow with both sides bidding to push into the play-off places.
They are seventh and eighth respectively going into the weekend, the Lilywhites a point ahead of their visitors.
North End boss Alex Neil has liked what he has seen from the South Wales outfit and thinks an exciting clash could lie ahead.
That was the case in the reverse fixture at the Liberty Stadium in August when the game ebbed and flowed, PNE slipping to a 3-2 defeat.
They took the lead that day through Joe Rafferty, fell 2-1 behind, pulled level from the penalty spot, before conceding a third goal.
Neil said: “Swansea are a good side, a dangerous type of team. I think they are second in the league for conceding a goal and coming back.
“They always carry a threat and have some young, exciting players.
“Naturally when you have got a youngish squad, results can be a bit mixed because young players don’t have the consistency which the senior pros do.
“When they do perform, they tend to be very good.
“Swansea have a lot of younger players coming through.”
The Swans’ business in the January window has been very much at the younger end of the market.
Rhian Brewster, Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi have come on loan.
All used to be coached in the England Under-17s by Swansea boss Steve Cooper.
Brewster has arrived from Liverpool, Gallagher from Chelsea – via a loan spell at Charlton Athletic – and Guehi from Chelsea.
It is very much a case of Cooper putting the band back together, wanting to work with players he knows.
Neil said: “As a manager or coach you always go back to what you know.
“Steve’s past history is working with these players. He has identified what they can do, that they have been reliable and good for him in the past.
“Now he’s recruited them to help his team at Swansea.”
Brewster, 19, made three cup appearances for Liverpool this season before heading to South Wales.
He scored his first goal for Swansea in their 2-1 win over Wigan a fortnight ago. It is expected that Brewster will be part of a three-man attack, playing up front with Andre Ayew and Bersant Celina either side of him.
Ayew is this season’s top scorer with 12 goals – 10 of them in the league.
Looking ahead to the visit to Lancashire, Swans boss Cooper said: “We’ve got a lot of respect for Preston and certainly for Alex Neil.
"We know that we have to be ready on all fronts to win this game but we believe we will be.
“They’ve got some really good players. I wouldn’t class them as a physical team. Of course they can look after themselves.
“They’ve added Scott Sinclair who had some good times at this club but we need to manage that.”