Ryan Lowe faces tactical dilemma as striker returns and Leicester City message sent

PNE take on Leicester City away from home in the Championship on Wednesday - as they aim to bounce back from defeat to West Brom
Preston North End's Manager Ryan LowePreston North End's Manager Ryan Lowe
Preston North End's Manager Ryan Lowe

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe is relishing Wednesday night’s trip to Leicester City - with the return of striker Will Keane a ‘real bonus’ for the Lilywhites.

North End head to the King Power Arena on the back of their first defeat of the Championship season: a Deepdale drubbing at the hands of West Brom last time out. It was a hugely disappointing day for Preston, but Lowe maintained a positive tone in his post-match press conference and admitted he would enjoy picking the bones out of his team’s under-par performance.

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The league leaders now await, with Leicester having made a scintillating start to the campaign under Enzo Maresca. The relegated Foxes have won eight out of nine and North End’s manager wants his players to embrace the upcoming challenge. It’s Leicester and Ipswich away in the space of four days and Preston’s boss is eager to tackle the test ahead.

“I think there are loads of positives to take from what we’ve done so far,” said Lowe. “We are never going to go on and win every game - we know that. You are coming up against good teams and different personnel. We know we now have a tough week on the road, but it is one we’re relishing. We are in a fantastic position, have some good points on the board and so we just need to get back to basics. What a place to go and play your football, Leicester, a team who’ve just come down from the Premier League and still have some fantastic players. It is one where we will go there with a smile on our face, have a positive attitude and try to get a result.”

PNE’s top scorer Keane was back on the pitch against Albion - replacing fellow summer recruit Milutin Osmajic just after the hour mark, with West Brom three-nil up. Having picked up an adductor issue during the international break and missed three Championship games, Lowe was delighted to have his number seven back on the pitch again.

“Yeah, massive positive,” said Lowe, on Keane’s return. “I think it was the only one from (Saturday’s match) - which we can probably all agree with. But, Keano has missed a couple of weeks and a few games. He was disappointed, but I thought he was fantastic when he came on and it’s always tough when you’ve been out. We didn’t envisage giving him half-an-hour; the physio will probably have a cob on with me at the moment. But, he was fine and has come through it which is a real bonus.”

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And, with him and Osmajic now both available, Lowe must decide whether to stick by the 3-4-2-1 system which has served him well so far - or partner the two forwards up top. Preston have been using a box midfield with two number tens in behind the lone striker this season, but Lowe has now got the option to go more striker heavy.

“We can change it up now,” said Lowe. “We can go three up top, we can go two up top, we can go with two eights - we’ve got the personnel. What we have got to be mindful of, is what has got us to where we are and the performances the lads have played with the two tens. But, we can structure that however way we want - whether they are wider or inside or lobsided, it doesn’t really matter. The lads take on the information we give them and if they continue to do that then we’ll continue to change it up when needs be.”

When asked if he could see Keane and Osmajic thriving as a pair, Lowe said last week: “Yeah, definitely. I think Keano can be a foil for him; Milutin wants to just run in behind all of the time, doesn’t he? We’ve got to make sure we do the right things with him.”