Nottingham Forest will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Championship as they take on Preston North End at The City Ground on Tuesday evening.
The Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Championship rivals Hull City at the KCOM Stadium. It was a disappointing performance from Forest and they will be looking to respond by claiming three points in this one.
As for Preston, they also suffered defeat in the FA Cup at the hands of Sheffield United. The Blades secured a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane courtesy of a late controversial penalty scored by Billy Sharp.
Seasons so far
There was a lot of optimism around The City Ground at the start of this season as the club began a new era under the ownership of Evangelos Marinakis. However, the Reds did not make as much progress in the first-half of the season as the owners would have liked which resulted in the dismissal of manager Mark Warburton following the 1-0 defeat at home to Sunderland.
The club have since appointed former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka as manager in the hope that he can lead the club back to the Premier League. Due to the considerable gap between themselves and the play-off positions, promotion this season seems unlikely but the club’s hierarchy do want to see progress between now and the end of the season.
It was a very disappointing result for Forest at the weekend as they were eliminated from the FA Cup. They had put in an exceptional performance to beat Premier League side Arsenal 4-2 in the previous round which made this result against Hull even more disappointing for supporters. However, they must now turn their attention to trying to reduce the gap between them and the play-off places by claiming three points against Preston.
As for Preston, they have put themselves in a very good position to try and challenge for promotion. Many feared the worst when long-term manager Simon Grayson decided to depart the club to takeover at Sunderland in the summer but Alex Neil has done a great job since taking over.
They currently find themselves sat just six points off the play-off places with a game-in-hand on sixth placed Fulham. If they could sneak into the play-offs between now and the end of the season then it would be seen as a great success. The club have been knocking on the door of the play-offs for a couple of years now so this could finally be the year that they achieve a top six finish.
The narrow defeat to Sheffield United in the FA Cup at the weekend was a disappointment but at the same time, it means that they can now fully focus on trying to secure a play-off place.
A key player for Preston so far this season has been their star striker Jordan Hugill. The 25-year-old has scored 10 goals already this season and they will be desperate to keep hold of him in the next few days as he has been linked with moves away from the club in recent times.
Last time they met
The Reds last played Preston in the Championship in a 1-1 draw at Deepdale in December. Ben Brereton had given Mark Warburton’s side the lead in the second-half but Paul Huntington’s long-range strike was enough to secure the hosts a share of the points.
Karanka will still be unable to name midfielder Liam Bridcutt in his starting line-up as he serves out the second game of his two-match suspension. Mustapha Carayol was given a rare start against Hull but failed to impress so could find himself back on the bench for this one.
Apostolos Vellios made a rare appearance against Hull and managed to find the back of the net within minutes of coming off the bench. It will be interesting to see if he is rewarded with a place in the starting line-up.
Karanka has stated that he hopes to have signings in place before this match but they will have no part to play in this fixture.
As for Preston, it will be interesting to see whether Neil opts to include Hugill in his starting line-up as he has once again been subject to a lot of interest in this transfer window.