Preston North End vs Cardiff City preview: Bluebirds hot on the Lillywhites' tale
Robert Gatzel celebrating his goal against Leeds United (Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images)

Preston North End face Cardiff City in one of the Sky Bet Championship's early Saturday kick-offs, with the fight for sixth place well and truly on.

Cardiff come into this game in seventh place with 57 points, whilst Preston sit in sixth place also on 57 points - separated only by goal difference (one goal). 

Key Battles

The battle in the middle of the park will be between Daniel Johnson of Preston and Joe Ralls of Cardiff. Johnson is Preston's joint top scorer this season, managing an impressive 11 goals and five assists and is always a threat from  midfield. 

Ralls will have his work cut out to keep Johnson at bay, although his defensive duties are what he receives his plaudits from, the industrious midfielder has scored six goals this campaign. 

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Previous Meetings

Across their last five meetings, Cardiff have only emerged victorious once, drawing once and losing three times. 

Last time the two sides met in the league was December 2019 in what was a rather dull 0-0 draw, with Preston enjoying much more of the ball and having 16 shots compared to Cardiff's three - with only three on target compared to the host's one. 

With plenty to play for in this fixture, much more action is expected. 

Team News

Josh Murphy looks to be the only doubt for Cardiff, other than that Harris' side is fully fit and available for selection. 

Neil stated that club captain Tom Clarke is still injured and is set to depart at the end of the month, with Louis Moult still out injured also. 

Darnell Fisher could well feature for Preston, after only making the  bench for their clash against Luton.

Predicted Line-ups

Preston: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Browne, Pearson, Sinclair; Johnson, Barkhuizen, Maguire (4-2-3-1).

Cardiff: Smithies; Sanderson, Morrison, Nelson, Bennet; Bacuna, Rals, Vaulks; Mendez-Laing, Gatzel, Hoilett (4-3-3).

Managers Thoughts 

Neil is happy that his squad made it past the first round of fixtures unscathed and stated how he's interested how the home advantage will be effected: 

"All the lads have come through fine and we've done a full training session this week.

"In the German division it's give teams no advantage. I think this will be really interesting to see.”

Neil is however still wary of the threat that Cardiff will posses at Deepdale:

"I think in the reverse game it was Neil (Harris) trying to get his message over to the players of what he wants them to do. His players will be more used to the style."

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The Cardiff boss stated he couldn't be happier with his sides performance against Leeds, but insists that their clash against Preston will be very tough:

"With eight games left a goal separates the two teams. I’m sure it will be a close encounter at the weekend.

“There’s nothing between us in the table and we’re two well-matched, physical teams that will work extremely hard. 

“The result [against Leeds] speaks for itself. We put in a very strong, solid display against the league leaders and got the three points.”