Selection dilemmas for Preston North End boss Ryan Lowe ahead of West Bromwich Albion trip

Preston North End head to West Bromwich Albion this evening with an extra striker on board, a couple more options in the wing-back slots but without a key midfielder.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 8:00 am

The travelling support in the Midlands – expected to number around 1,000 – are likely to get their first sighting of Cameron Archer after his loan move from Aston Villa.

Brad Potts and Josh Earl are expected to return from injury to give PNE boss Ryan Lowe more choice in the two wing-back positions.

Lowe will also have Andrew Hughes back from suspension in the centre of defence.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Ali McCann will be pushing for a start in Preston North End’s visit to West Bromwich Albion

He has lost Daniel Johnson from the midfield, this the first of three games the 29-year-old will miss while on World Cup qualifying duty with Jamaica.

Ali McCann seems the natural replacement for Johnson in the engine room.

McCann’s only league start under Lowe was in the 2-1 win over Barnsley when he played as a wing-back.

But the Northern Ireland international played in midfield against Cardiff in the FA Cup earlier this month.

A regular before the arrival of Lowe, former St Johnstone player McCann will be looking to re-establish himself.

As PNE look to bounce back at The Hawthorns (8pm) from Saturday’s defeat to Swansea, Lowe has praised his squad’s powers of recovery.

Lowe said: “Swansea was the first defeat in the league and I don’t think we should have lost the game.

“Swansea scored a wonder goal and had it not gone in, would they have managed to break through us?

“You always want a reaction from the team and I’ve already seen that from this group since I came in.

“We reacted well to going 1-0 down at Swansea, there was only one team who were going to score the next goal.

“Then we had that reaction against Sheffield United when we were down to 10 men and get back from 2-0 to draw 2-2.

“The ability to react and the character in this group of players is there.”

Lowe will be without Tom Barkhuizen who limped off in the first half at Swansea with a calf injury.

Potts, who has recovered from a swollen ankle, is set to replace Barkhuizen at right wing-back. On the other side of the pitch, Earl could slot into the wing-back role.

The right-footed Joe Rafferty played there at the weekend and Earl would give the side a better balance.

It will be all eyes on Archer to see if he makes his PNE debut – whether from the start or as a substitute.

The 20-year-old striker has had two training sessions at Euxton to work with his new team-mates.

Lowe said: “Cameron brings more competition up front and he’ll give us something different.”