Preston North End boss Frankie McAvoy knows his strongest formation

Preston North End head coach Frankie McAvoy favours a 3-5-2 formation to start the new campaign and has the players’ backing.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 4:45 pm

McAvoy played three at the back in seven of his eight matches in interim charge last season.

In the two recent games in Scotland against St Johnstone and Celtic, North End lined up in the same way.

Work will be done on alternatives in training so to have a Plan B but for the time being, McAvoy’s thinking is with the 3-5-2 and wing-backs.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Sepp van den Berg could form part of a back three in his preferred central role

“I think we look really comfortable in that system,” said McAvoy.

“The players will tell you that, it is the system they prefer at the moment.

“If you think how we finished last season and how the first couple of friendlies have gone, it’s served us well.

“It ain’t broken so why try and fix it?

“We have other shapes and we look at different things in training, look at how to best play those ways.

“At the moment, though, the three at the back suits us best I would say.”

McAvoy has the numbers to play with three central defenders two wing-backs. He has asked some players to show their versatility in the friendlies.

In the Scottish games, Josh Earl played on the left-hand side of the back three – starting at St Johnstone and as a substitute against Celtic.

Sepp van den Berg has played in the middle – his preferred position – after much of his football came as a wing-back or right-back last season.

Tom Barkhuizen has played as a wing-back on both sides of the pitch.

As the pre-season programme continues and players get game time in their legs, there should be more clues as who is at the forefront of McAvoy’s thinking for starts.

On Saturday, McAvoy takes his side to East Lancashire to face Accrington Stanley.

They face Manchester City at City’s Academy Stadium next Tuesday, before going to Wigan a week on Friday.

The following afternoon, Manchester United visit Deepdale for North End’s only home friendly.

Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to send a strong side to face Preston, although none of the England players will be on show.

Solskjaer fielded some younger players at Derby on Sunday but he says he needs to focus on first-team players in their remaining friendlies.