Sean Maguire a likely starter for Preston North End's trip to Bristol City

Preston North End’s frontline has had a couple of different looks of late and there is potential for more change in the games to come.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 1:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 1:38 pm

Sean Maguire, Emil Riis and Jayden Stockley have been the three main-line strikers available, with Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair also having the occasional game up front.

Ched Evans’ arrival from Fleetwood on loan gives PNE manager Alex Neil another option, Evans available for Saturday’s trip to Bristol City after being cup-tied against Wycombe.

On the face of it, Maguire looks most likely to lead the line at Ashton Gate.

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Preston North End striker Sean Maguire

The Irish striker has his critics but his form in recent weeks has been good.

Maguire netted twice either side of Christmas, scoring at Barnsley and then against Coventry.

Neil praised his workrate in the defeat to Nottingham Forest on January 2 and gave him a breather on the bench for the Wycombe FA Cup tie.

He came on for the last 15 minutes at Adams Park, part of a double change which was one last throw of the dice in a bid to salvage something from an awful afternoon.

At Wycombe, Neil started with a 4-4-2, Riis and Stockley the two frontmen.

They have rarely looked comfortably as a pair and the fact PNE went with a midfield diamond which offered little width, meant no opportunity to use their height to get on the end of crosses.

In the previous game against Forest, Maguire was at the top end of a 4-2-3-1, while against Coventry he had Barkhuizen for company in a 3-4-1-2.

Turning the attention to Bristol City, it is less than a month since PNE beat them 1-0 at Deepdale.

Maguire led the attack in a 4-2-3-1 that night before a switch of system during the second half to counteract a change of shape from the visitors.

Daniel Johnson scored the winner that night from the penalty spot, with Maguire netting in PNE’s visit to Ashton Gate in the final game of last season in July.

If Neil opts for two up front against the Robins, Evans is now an option.

Neil sees the 32-year-old as a No.9, someone to hold up the ball and for others to play off.

Evans is a controversial signing, plenty of ground has been covered on that score and the Welshman will continue to spark debate.

Currently you could see Evans being ahead of Stockley in the targetman pecking order.

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