PNE will taste North West flavour to next term's Championship

The Championship schedule will have a local feel to it when the fixtures are released on Thursday morning.

Preston boss Alex Neil
Preston boss Alex Neil

For the first time, Preston, Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan will all be in the same division at the same time.

The have been seasons when three of the clubs have competed together at various levels.

Bolton’s final-day escape from relegation – Burton who lost at Deepdale went down at their expense – coupled with Wigan and Blackburn being promoted, has provided the division with the regional flavour.

Last season, Bolton were the only opposition for North End.

The sides drew 0-0 in front of the cameras at Deepdale last November, with Preston winning 3-1 on Gentry Day at the Macron Stadium with a Sean Maguire double and Tom Barkhuizen on target.

In the 2016/17 campaign, Rovers and Wigan were both relegated.

North End took four points off both of them that season.

They beat Wigan 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 away, while it was a 3-2 victory over Rovers at Deepdale and a 2-2 draw away – Aiden McGeady netting PNE’s equaliser deep in stoppage time.

The fixtures are released at 9am on Thursday by the Football League, a week on from the Premier League bringing out theirs.

It all starts on August 4, with the first round of the League Cup being in the week beginning August 13 – slightly later than in recent years when ties have been played in the first midweek.

North End were last week drawn against Morecambe in the first round.

Preston report back for training at Springfields on June 28, giving them a build-up of five weeks and two days.

On July 7, Alex Neil takes his squad to play Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

They then go to Mill Farm a week later to play AFC Fylde. It is the first public games between the clubs, although they have met twice in behind-closed-doors matches.

North End then have back-to-back friendlies at Deepdale against West Ham on July 21, and Burnley two days later on July 23.

A couple more friendlies are due to be added to the summer schedule.

This will be Neil’s first full pre-season with Preston.

Last year he was named as North End boss six days into the pre-season programme, Simon Grayson having left for Sunderland the day the squad reported back.