Preston North End boss Frankie McAvoy ready to rotate his players for Cheltenham cup tie

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Frankie McAvoy will look to strike the right balance in his team selection for Preston North End’s Carabao Cup clash with Cheltenham Town at Deepdale tonight.

Lilywhites head coach McAvoy is keen to give game time to some players who have not been starting in the Championship recently.

But he also wants to retain a core of the side who have helped North End go six games unbeaten – five of those in the league – so that he has some continuity of selection.

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McAvoy is likely to have to manage without Patrick Bauer, who broke his nose and needed stitches after a clash with ex-PNE striker Jordan Hugill during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich.

Ali McCann comes into contention to start for Preston against CheltenhamAli McCann comes into contention to start for Preston against Cheltenham
Ali McCann comes into contention to start for Preston against Cheltenham

Josh Murphy is cup-tied having played for Cardiff in the previous rounds.

However, Ali McCann and Connor Wickham both come into McAvoy’s thinking when it comes to picking the side.

McAvoy said: “We’ve struck the right balance in terms of selecting a team in the two previous rounds and it’s my task to make sure we do that again for this game.

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“We want to progress to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup and we’ll be working hard to try and make that happen.

“Alan Browne has been back on the training field so he will be back in contention and hopefully one or two others.

“The one issue we have is that Pat Bauer has broken his nose and had stitches.

“I would hate to put him in and he takes another knock on it which puts him out for a longer period.

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“Josh Murphy is cup-tied unfortunately but we knew that when we signed him.

“Ali and Connor will come into my thinking, as do the lads who played on Saturday and those on the bench.

“Also the players who didn’t make the 25-man squad come into contention with it being a cup competition.”

Midfielder McCann caught the eye in a 25-minute run as a sub on Saturday, the £1.2m signing’s third game in PNE colours.

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Wickham came on at the same time for his debut and McAvoy was encouraged by what he saw from the striker.

Whether tonight is too soon for a start after so long out of competitive action, remains to be seen.

McAvoy said: “We have seen progress from Connor but it can be difficult to take training into match fitness.

“He gave us a real spark when he came on against West Bromwich and I was happy with him.”

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It will be interesting to see if McAvoy involves any of the players who didn’t make the squad registered for league matches.

Paul Huntington, Joe Rafferty and Jamie Thomas are the outfield players who would be available to re-join the squad tonight.