Who will make Preston North End's starting XI on the opening day against Hull City?
Frankie McAvoy is just a few days away from naming his first Preston North End side for a Championship match since landing the head coach job full-time.
The Lilywhites host Hull City at Deepdale on Saturday, the visitors back in the division after a season in League One.
McAvoy’s starting XI is unlikely to feature any surprises, with a 3-4-1-2 on the cards.
Although pre-season can be the time for experimenting, McAvoy has largely been methodical in his approach.
Only in the Wigan game last Friday night did he steer away from three at the back to play 4-3-3.
The core of two different teams emerged in many of the friendlies.
McAvoy’s started a back three of Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay and Andrew Hughes in the games against Celtic, Accrington, Manchester City and Saturday’s hush-hush behind closed doors offering.
With that being the defence which served PNE so well at the end of last season, we can assume it is the one McAvoy plans to start with.
Greg Cunningham is a likely starter at left wing-back but who starts on the other side of the pitch is not quite as certain.
Tom Barkhuizen has had plenty of game time there in the absence of the injured Matthew Olosunde and due to Sepp van den Berg’s use in the middle in the matches when Storey, Lindsay and Hughes did not start.
If Barkhuizen is needed up front – he played as a striker against City – Van den Berg could fill the right wing-back slot as he did last season.
Ryan Ledson and Ben Whiteman seem to have the central midfield sewn up but who plays in the attacking ‘10’ role in front will be interesting.
Brad Potts has been used there quite prominently but McAvoy now has Alan Browne back after injury and Daniel Johnson from international duty.
In the attack, Ched Evans is nailed on for a start and it is a case of who plays alongside him – a choice of Barkhuizen, Emil Riis, Sean Maguire or Scott Sinclair.
The choices available up front highlight the need for another striker.
Sinclair is a good finisher but looks more at home coming from a wider position.
Riis blew hot and cold after his arrival last October, with Maguire struggling for form.
Barkhuizen linked well with Evans at City and did so a couple of times last season.
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