The inside track on Preston North End: What Middlesbrough can expect at the Riverside
Middlesbrough will welcome a high-flying Preston side to the Riverside tonight – but what can they expect from Alex Neil’s side?
We caught up with Preston reporter Dave Seddon from our sister title the Lancashire Evening Post to get the inside track on the Lillywhites.
1. How are Preston shaping up ahead of their meeting with Boro?
DS: “They are in pretty good shape at the moment, unbeaten in six Championship games. Last week they lost 3-0 at home to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup which was only to be expected.
“Alex Neil has used his squad well this season and is looking to build on what has been a very decent start.”
2. Who are Preston's key players and who will Boro need to look out for?
DS: “Daniel Johnson has been playing very well having been moved into a more advanced midfield role. He's scored five goals this season, four of them penalties, and his creativity is important for Preston.
“Ben Pearson is a vital cog in the works in a deeper midfield position. Tom Barkhuizen also offers pace up front, having switched to the striker's role from the wing.”
3. What system will Preston line-up in?
DS: “Usually they play 4-2-3-1 or a slight variant of that. Alex Neil can change it depending on the opposition but generally goes with that.”
4. How are the Preston fans feeling ahead of the meeting with Boro?
DS: “There is a decent mood among the fans. The start to the season has been better than anticipated, bearing in mind they didn't finish the last campaign well.”
5. What would mark a good season for Preston this season?
DS: “They want to challenge for promotion/play-offs, the start they've made showing it can be a realistic aim.
“Preston might not be one of the Championship glamour clubs and don't have the budget others have, but they are established in this division - this is their fifth season in this league.
“North End have a very good manager in Alex Neil who got Norwich promoted to the top flight in 2015. He knows what he has to work with at Deepdale and seems happy to do that, signing a new contract in April amid strong interest from West Brom.”