Talking points: Trio have been to the fore for Preston North End over past month
Preston North End have been taking a breather over the weekend in readiness to the build-up to the next block of Championship games and the Carabao Cup clash with Liverpool.
Draws were the dominant scoreline in the fixtures played since the September break, five of the Lilywhites’ league games ending all square.
There was the one defeat at Queens Park Rangers, while North End’s single victory came in the cup against Cheltenham.
Here we look at three players who stood out for PNE in the past month.
1. Patrick Bauer.
The German defender has steadily been re-establishing himself in the North End back three.
Having missed the second half of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Bauer was eased back during pre-season and in the early weeks of the campaign.
He’s been back in the team since the third week of August and started all six of the Championship games in September and early October.
Bauer didn’t finish the QPR game because of a deadleg suffered in the first half. He came off at half-time and his presence was to be missed later in the game as PNE shipped two goals with poor defending.
Would those goals have been conceded with Bauer still on the pitch?
It should be noted too that Bauer played much of the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion suffering from a broken nose.
His nose had got rearranged in a collision with Jordan Hugill’s elbow.
The midielder is North End’s second-highest scorer in the league with three goals.
Those came in three successive home games, one at the end of August in the win over Swansea, then more recently against West Bromwich and Stoke.
Whiteman got a helping hand against the Baggies, his shot from outside the box catching a big deflection off Kyle Bartley.
It was a free-kick from Whiteman’s right boot which hit the back of the net against Stoke – coming at a time when PNE had struggled to get a foothold in the game.
During September, Whiteman had perhaps been looking over his shoulder at Ali McCann sat on the bench.
McCann had patiently been waiting for a start since joining from St Johnstone in a £1.2m move on transfer deadline day.
Whiteman could perhaps count himself unfortunate to make way for McCann in the starting XI at QPR. Maybe fatigue was a factor.
3. Josh Earl.
It has been a big few weeks for the left wing-back.
At Birmingham a fortnight ago he made his 50th appearance in PNE colours. Then the following week Earl found the net for the first time at senior level.
The 22-year-old is now firmly North End’s first choice on the left.
Earl’s time since getting into the PNE side four years has been rather stop-start.
Nine starts on the spin suggests he now has plenty of forward momentum.