Preston North End midfielder wants another big derby experience when Blackburn Rovers visit Deepdale

Ben Whiteman loved seeing Deepdale rocking when Preston North End beat Blackpool earlier this month and hopes for similar in Monday’s derby with Blackburn Rovers.

By Dave Seddon
Sunday, 24th April 2022, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 24th April 2022, 8:58 am

The 1-0 victory over the Seasiders on April 5 was redemption for PNE after defeat in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Rovers’ visit (7.30pm) throws-up the potential for a same outcome, North End losing at Ewood Park in December and now having the chance to serve-up some revenge.

Lilywhites midfielder Whiteman told the Lancashire Post: “Blackpool here was a massive game and one I felt we deserved to win.

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Preston North End's Ben Whiteman, Ali McCann, Andrew Hughes and Alan Browne celebrate Photographer Alex Dodd/CameraSport The EFL Sky Bet Championship - Preston North End v Blackpool - Tuesday 5th April 2022 - Deepdale - Preston World Copyright © 2022 CameraSport. All rights reserved. 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - [email protected] - www.camerasport.com

"The atmosphere that night was brilliant, definitely a stand-out in terms of my career to date – the way the game went and how we played it out.

"Mentioning the atmosphere again, it was totally different to any other game we’d played at home, it was outstanding.

"The fans turned up in their numbers, they were loud and it definitely made a difference.

"At the time we’d been having a bit of a sticky spell so that was the type of occasion when you needed the help of the fans.

Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman in action against Blackpool at Deepdale

"We’ve got another derby against Blackburn now and we want to win that as we look to finish the season strongly.”

Whiteman signed for North End from Doncaster Rovers in a £1.6m deal midway through last season.

He was a regular in the second-half of 2020/21 and for the whole of this campaign it’s been the same.

The 25-year-old has featured in 41 of PNE’s 43 Championship games this season – 39 starts and twice off the bench.

Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman battles with Fulham's Fabio Carvalho

Tellingly, Ryan Lowe has picked him for every league match he’s been in charge of since coming to the club in December.

Lowe sees him as a vital cog in the works, positioning Whiteman in front of the back three and getting him on the ball early in moves.

Whiteman said: “I’m pleased with how much I have played, I want to start games and affect games.

"We’ve got three matches left this season which I want to play in and then I’ll carry that into next season.

"The role is something I enjoy, getting on the ball, making things happen and stopping opposition attacks, there’s a bit of everything in there.

"It’s nice to have the manager’s confidence and if you have that, it brings you on as a player.

"The gaffer has definitely done that, I feel I have have developed massively under him and Mike Marsh.

"They’ve been fantastic with me and this is an exciting time.

"This is not a time to reflect on things too much though, we’ve still got nine points to play for and a derby game to start with..

"If we finish strongly it could make a big difference to where we finish in the table.”

Whiteman’s role as PNE’s deepest sitting midfielder has come at the cost of a high number of yellow cards – a dozen in league action.

They have only led to one suspension though, a one-game ban coming after the fifth booking. He only hit 10 after the threat of a two-match suspension had passed.

The former Manchester United academy player views bookings as something of an occupational hazard playing in the position he does.

Whiteman said: “I want to win games and sometimes that comes at a bit of a cost.

"I tend to be the last man before the back line if I have to commit a foul, I’ll do that for the team. It is what it is, it’s not something I’m going to worry about too much.”

To be fair to Whiteman, he’s not top of the bad boy’s league – Middlesbrough’s Matt Crooks is at the summit with 15, while QPR’s Sam Field and Coventry’s Gustavo Hamer have 14 cautions apiece. He’s on 12 with three other players.

On Monday night in front of the Sky Sports cameras, North End could finish off Blackburn’s fading hopes of making the the top six.

Tony Mowbray’s men go into the derby in ninth place, six points shy of Sheffield United who occupy the final play-off place and with a poorer goal difference.

On a very wet Ewood Park pitch in December, Ben Brereton-Diaz’s second-half header separated the sides.

It was a significant result in PNE’s season, with Frankie McAvoy losing his job 48 hours later.

Looking back four months to that game, Whiteman said: “What I remember from that game was that the pitch was a disgrace and it shouldn’t have gone ahead.

"Their goal was a fantastic cross and a fantastic header.

"Momentum is a massive thing in football and if you remember where we are at the time and where Blackburn were at, they were very much on an upward curve.

"There wasn’t much in the game, I can’t remember many other chances at either end. The game was a shocker, it was about putting the ball into the channel and letting the water hold it up to chase.

"A lot has changed since then, it will be a much different game on Monday night and we’ve made a lot of progress since then.”

North End go into the Blackburn clash on the back of last Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Fulham. It was tough going for them at Craven Cottage on a night the London side clinched promotion to the Premier League.

However, Whiteman refused to be too downhearted by what happened in the capital. He said: "They have a lad who is signing for Liverpool, while Mitrovic has 40 goals.