Ryan Lowe urges Preston North End to take the next step against Sheffield United

Ryan Lowe wants Preston North End to show further signs of progression when they host Sheffield United at Deepdale tonight.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 8:00 am

This is the first of four midweek games on the spin for PNE, with catch-up starting after the Christmas postponements.

There are eight matches between now and February 12, Lowe acutely aware that this is a key stage of the season with so many points up for grabs in a short space of time.

North End manager Lowe said: “We are a good team – but I want us to be a very good team, an excellent team.

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Preston North End striker Emil Riis was substituted against Birmingham on Saturday

“If we get to those standards and keep driving the team on, ultimately we will win a lot of games of football.

“We are in decent form at the moment, we’ve been doing okay, the stats on certain things have been going through the roof, we want to create more chances, have more shots, score more goals.

“What I’m seeing in the group is a lot of positive vibes, a lot of energy and a confidence in what they do.

“So far we’ve got seven points out of nine and we know that the next couple of weeks are going to be tough.

“We have a lot games against some tough teams.

“On our day we are a good team and we have to make sure we go toe-to-toe with other sides and have a real go at getting the points.”

A busy run of fixtures can change the landscape in a short space of time.

Lowe uses Middlesbrough as a great example, Boro in 15th place after PNE beat them in late November.

Six wins and a draw since then have shot them up the table into the top six.

Said Lowe: “When you put a run together and pick up points, it can catapult you.

“You only have to look at Middlesbrough. They were down at the bottom end, they made the change and now they are just inside the play-offs.

“The back end of January and early February can go a long way to determining where you will finish.”

On the selection front, Lowe will again be without Josh Earl this evening, the left wing-back having injured his ankle at Cardiff.

That is likely to see Greg Cunningham continue down that side of the pitch, Lowe impressed with his display there against Birmingham.

Who he chooses as his frontline will be interesting.

Ched Evans is a certain starter after a physical and energetic display in which he gave the Birmingham defence no peace.

Emil Riis did not have the same impact, the Dane subbed during the second half and replaced by Sean Maguire.

Scott Sinclair, who made his 500th career appearance as a late sub on Saturday, is another option alongside Evans.