The defensive selection issues facing Preston North End head coach Frankie McAvoy ahead of the clash with Blackburn Rovers

Frankie McAvoy’s big selection issues for Preston North End’s derby at Blackburn Rovers will be across the backline.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 12:30 pm

The midfield and attack should pick itself, Ched Evans surely having played himself into a starting role alongside Emil Riis at Ewood Park, having come off the bench and scored twice in the last two games.

Ali McCann, Ben Whiteman and Alan Browne look settled in the engine room but there are questions at the back after three injuries.

Patrick Bauer did not play in the 1-1 draw against Fulham last Saturday, with Tom Barkhuizen and Andrew Hughes not completing it.

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Preston North End defender Andrew Hughes leaves the pitch during the Fulham game with assistant physio Tim Horn

So North End head coach McAvoy will have had a close eye on the Euxton treatment room this week.

Bauer’s place was taken by Liam Lindsay who made his first Championship start since August.

Lindsay started with Sepp van den Berg and Hughes either side of him but ended the game partnered by Jordan Storey and Greg Cunningham.

Van den Berg had to move to right wing-back when Barkhuizen limped off, later Cunningham was Hughes’ replacement.

Tom Barkhuizen gets attention from PNE physio Matt Jackson as referee Chris Kavanagh watches on

McAvoy is likely to keep his cards close to his chest in the build-up to Saturday, in terms of who might be available and who might not be.

Buy there is the possibility of him having to make a change or two.

Hughes going off against Fulham was a worry in that the cover on the left side of the back three is not as plentiful as on the right.

Cunningham stepped in for Hughes when the Welshman was out with a toe injury for two games ahead of the October international break.

Hughes has in the main played that left-hand side of the three role very well this season.

He has looked more comfortable there than as a left-back or wing-back.

Cunningham is better in the wider full-back role than when he when playing more centrally.

Whatever the team is at Blackburn, they simply have to perform better than in the last derby against Blackpool.

That 2-0 defeat six weeks ago still lingers in the minds of the PNE faithful.

Saturday will not see the fans travel in the numbers they have done to Ewood Park since this fixture resumed in 2016.

While recent followings have numbered up to 7,000, it could be below the 3,500 mark this time – inconsistent form and £30 tickets seeing to that.

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