Ryan Lowe discusses back four for Preston North End and also the players currently at high risk of injury

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Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe has explained why he switched up his tactics in Saturday’s draw with Blackburn Rovers, with both goals coming after he opted to make the change.

PNE conceded with less than 10 minutes left of the regulation 90 to go, Sammie Szmodics finding the bottom corner. Liam Delap’s attempted cross was sent into his own net by Dominic Hyam in the fifth minute of added time to give the home side a point.

Four minutes before the opening goal, Lowe opted to take off Patrick Bauer – who came in for his second league start of the season in the middle of the back three – and switch to four at the back, Szmodics then played in on goal in between Jordan Storey and Andrew Hughes as the centre back pair.

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Lowe said: “It was an attacking change. At 0-0 we took a risk to get four strikers on the pitch, or four attackers, especially at the end which got us the goal. Maybe it came through too early but Szmodics is a good player, he drove at Hughesy after the slide pass. We tried to keep it down one side and then it's a great finish.

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe gives instructions to his team during a break in playPreston North End manager Ryan Lowe gives instructions to his team during a break in play
Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe gives instructions to his team during a break in play

"Does that happen if we're in a back three? Potentially yeah because there is more space. We tried to keep the back four nice and narrow but then for us, do we go and score at the other end if we've not changed it? It's a catch 22.

"I'm just pleased with the way they carried themselves in a local derby. The atmosphere was relentless and the game was relentless so to come out of it with a point is pleasing.”

Although a change in approach was the main reasoning behind Lowe’s tinkering, he also had to look after his players.

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The 1-1 draw with Blackburn was PNE’s sixth game in 22 days, and with injuries cropping up in their squad, it had left some of his charges at risk of picking up injuries themselves.

Lowe said: “We took Patrick Bauer off and went to a back four, went to a 4-2-3-1 and then we put Ben Woodburn on and put him down one side, put Josh Onomah in the ten and pushed Troy Parrott outside. Then we took Josh off and Liam Delap on for his pace and power, which he got in the end down that side. We put Ali McCann on too for some fresh legs. Daniel Johnson has been immense in playing a load of games, they all have bumps and bruises. Josh was tiring towards the end.

"The subs were made for tactical reasons but also for the lads who were in red zones, where they could potentially injure themselves - and for us to go for it.

"There was no point in us just losing it, before their goal we changed it and really wanted to get four strikers up the pitch, which we did, and it paid off in the end.”