Does Ryan Lowe stick or twist with Preston North End team?


Preston fans will be filled with a newfound sense of optimism going into their next game this weekend against QPR.

With the return of Championship football last Saturday, PNE came back with a bang. Despite coming up against local rivals Blackburn – a team who were above them in the division – the Ewood Park outfit were outplayed by North End. Ched Evans added another two to his tally in an emphatic 4-1 victory and the squad will be looking to build on that now going forward. It won’t be easy but if they can, the play-offs could be a real possibility this season.

When Ryan Lowe initially revealed his team choice last weekend and the lineup was missing key players such as Emil Riis, Robbie Brady, Sean Maguire and Alan Browne, there was some shock and horror from supporters. The bench too was littered with youth talent and the revelation that there had been several injuries spelt dread for fans. There was no need for us to fear though.

That side got the job done – and Lowe and his charges earned a lot of trust in the process. Many seeing the XI might have felt three points was a big ask but they did it and they did it in style too.

The Preston boss has announced that there should be some players back available for selection this weekend though, so the big question is whether he opts to stick or twist? Should he throw some returning faces immediately back into the XI or should he show support to a side that brushed aside Blackburn?

QPR are a different beast and there is a lot of unpredictability surrounding who they will start with. Having lost boss Michael Beale to Rangers, there is a new face in the dugout in the form of Neil Critchley. The manager will be familiar to PNE fans in particular, with the coach having last managed Blackpool. He’s shown that he is certainly capable of being a very good leader in the Championship and he is sure to revitalise the Hoops.

Do PNE try their luck and mix things up to tackle them? Do they match unpredictability with unpredictability? Or do they bank on a side that got the job done last week?

Lowe hasn’t actually revealed who will be available for the fixture at the weekend – he’s opted for an element of surprise – but what’s clear is he should have some faces back available to him.

Regardless of whether it is Emil Riis, Andrew Hughes, Alan Browne, Ali McCann or whoever back this weekend though, the game could be best suited to sticking with the same team. Riis is a real talent and has shown he is capable of a double-digit tally in the second division but with the form Ched Evans is in, it would be harsh to drop him. Likewise, Ben Woodburn has been excellent so far this season when he has remained fit and deserves to stay in the side regardless of whether Robbie Brady could be there to push him out.

Perhaps the only name you could say that warrants a return to the lineup if fit is Andrew Hughes. Our entire defence has so far proven that they can be up to the task, sometimes regardless of personnel. Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay, Andrew Hughes and Greg Cunningham in that back three have all stepped up and produced when needed, so you would trust most of those names to be in that central three at the weekend.

For the rest of the side though, it could be a case of don’t change what isn’t broken. Preston were a well-oiled machine against Blackburn and a similar showing against QPR could land them another win – and could give them another three points on the road to a play-off place.

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