Preston North End midfielder eyes a return to better derby days as he prepares for Blackpool clash

Daniel Johnson would love to add Blackpool’s name to the list of Preston North End’s derby scalps in his time with the Lilywhites.
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The 29-year-old is the third longest-serving member of the PNE squad having signed in January 2015.

In that period, North End have had victories over Blackburn, Burnley, Wigan and Bolton – Johnson’s scoring record being decent in those local skirmishes.

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Only once has Johnson faced Blackpool, that being the tame 2-0 defeat at Bloomfield Road last autumn.

Preston North End midfielder Daniel JohnsonPreston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson
Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson

So his aim is to be on the winning side when the teams meet at Deepdale on Tuesday night. He’s heard plenty about the 2013 win over the Seasiders which pre-dated his arrival and hopes this week’s game is one being talked about for a while to come.

Johnson said: “Recently we have gone away from having a good derby record for whatever reason, whether that be down to different personnel, different manager, whatever it might be.

"We need to get back to stamping our authority down to make it known we are the best team in the area.”

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All you need to know about PNE’s clash with Blackpool
Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson in action at Derby County last SaturdayPreston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson in action at Derby County last Saturday
Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson in action at Derby County last Saturday
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The majority of the North End squad who will be on duty at Deepdale against Blackpool will have had involvement in the reverse fixture five months ago.

So if anything caught them by surprise that day, there is no excuse this time.

Johnson said: “We look forward to any game but this one even more so because of the occasion.

"We’ve suffered a defeat to them this season so it’s all about trying to put things right.

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"A lot of the lads have had a taste of the derby now, we’ve all seen what it is all about.

"It’s very different to the Wigan, Blackburn, Bolton games, so we know now what it’s all about.”

North End’s form isn’t great heading into the derby, collecting one point from three away games since beating Bournemouth at home a month ago.

They didn’t score in those three matches either so there’s plenty for the PNE squad and coaching staff to address.

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"We’ve had a little dip which does happen to all teams in all divisions,” said Johnson.

"We take full responsibility for that and we’ve got to get back to doing what we know we are capable of.”

It’s at both ends of the pitch where North End haven’t fired of late, particularly in the two away games either side of the international break.

Johnson said: “As a collective we were better at Derby than we were at Luton, especially before going down to 10 men.

"But we came away with no points so that counts for nothing. We did well to a point but then lost our focus towards the end.

"In the last two games we have conceded five goals which is not good enough. We haven’t scored any goals, so it’s a bit of both.

"We need to get back to being hard to beat and look at our attacking threat.”