Preston North End vs Sheffield Wednesday preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted lineups, ones to watch
 (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Preston North End have started the season uncharacteristically slow at Deepdale, which sees them sit 14th in the table due to their contrasting and positive away form.

Alex Neil has made their Lancashire home a fortress since his arrival in 2017, but just one goal on their own patch this term has left many questioning their creative spark.

The Lilywhites only added one fresh face to their squad over the summer recess in 6'3 striker Emil Riis which some feel may not be enough for them to keep pushing towards the play-off places as they have done in previous years under the Scot's governance. 

Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday have had a week of preparation under new boss Tony Pulis who was announced as Garry Monk's predecessor on Friday 13th. 

On his first day at work, his first task was to recall custodian Kieren Westwood back to first-team training. Westwood was frozen out of the picture by Monk almost a year ago to date after a string of poor performances but unnerving spells between the sticks for both Cameron Dawson and Joe Wildsmith kept Wednesdayites hoping for the 36-year-old's return.

The Republic of Ireland international was only registered in The Owls' 25-man squad this week after Pulis made clear he holds him in the highest regard in his first press conference on Monday naming him as "one of the best goalkeeper's in The Championship.

Wednesday need to build on where they left off just before the international break with four points from Bournemouth and Millwall at Hillsborough.

  • Team news

Preston find themselves without key player Alan Browne after the midfielder tested positive for coronavirus while away on international duty with Republic of Ireland. Alex Neil was very outspoken on the issue in his pre-match press conference:

"It’s extremely frustrating. I can understand domestic teams being reluctant to let their players go on international duty at the moment because it’s the clubs that then get punished for something that is out of their control."

Other than Browne, there are no fresh injury concerns for The Lilywhites apart from "bumps and bruises" according to Alex Neil, who welcomes the re-introduction of five substitutes per game in the EFL. 

In the visitor's camp there are some injury concerns, Callum Paterson completely missed out on Scotland's Nations League game against Israel on Wednesday but details on an injury are not yet known. 

Massimo Luongo (knee) should return to the starting line-up after a prolonged period on the sidelines while Joost Van Aken is eligible after serving his three-match suspension. 

Aden Flint (Hamstring) will remain out until the new year, Liam Shaw (ankle) has been back in full training and Chey Dunkley (leg) is still edging back to fitness.

 

  • Predicted lineups

Preston North End (4-2-3-1):

Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Storey, Rafferty; Ledson, Gallagher, Harrop; Barkhuizen, Sinclair, Riis.

Sheffield Wednesday (5-3-2):

Westwood; Odubajo, Iorfa, Lees, Börner, Penney; Luongo, Bannan, Brown; Windass, Marriott.

  • Form guide

Preston North End: WWLLWL

Despite their poor home form at the outset of this season, away from home Preston have been flying, they beat table toppers Reading 3-0 after travelling to Queens Park Rangers and Huddersfield Town where they were 2-0 and 2-1 victors respectively. However, their home form is becoming a worry and something they must nip in the bud with just one goal at Deepdale so far.

Sheffield Wednesday: LLLLWD

Pulis will be hoping the blip in form against Luton Town, Rotherham United and Wycombe Wanderers had been and passed before he took responsibility of the club's fortunes. A win to kick off his tenure is crucial as his side sits 23rd in the table, level on points with Derby County who currently prop up the standings. The Rams will expect to haul themselves out of the drop zone so Wednesday must pick up points, quickly. 

  • Ones to watch

Emil Riis:

The 22-year-old has looked very threatening for North End in his performances on the road, despite notching just one goal and one assist in his eight appearances up to now. On home turf he has been starved of service against the likes of Millwall, Stoke City, Swansea City and Birmingham CityThe former Denmark under-21 international brings an arial presence to Preston's attack, something Alex Neil seems to favour in Riis and fellow striker Jayden Stockley.

Massimo Luongo:

If the Australian is back fit as expected he will provide a massive boost for his team-mates, the new manager and Wednesday fans watching at home. He has arguably been The Owls' stand out performer in the early stages of the season, it was no coincidence that the side suffered a drastic dip in form without his combative presence in the middle of the park. There is no like-for-like replacement for Luongo who not only breaks up play as a defensive midfielder but also acts as a box to box dynamo who can competently link up play and set up attacks for those around him, allowing the likes of Izzy Brown and Barry Bannan to be openly creative without having to concern themselves with defensive matters. 

  • Previous meetings

The sides last met in an empty Hillsborough in the closing stages of last season. The visitors won comfortably in the end despite Wednesday taking the lead just before the hour through Jacob Murphy. Late goals from Scott Sinclair, Jayden Stockley and Dan Potts turned the contest around and secured a 3-1 win for Preston.

You have to venture all the way back to New Year's Eve 2011 when the sides met in League One to find the last time Wednesday picked up all three points at Deepdale. First half goals from Danny Batth and Ben Marshall earned Gary Megson's side a 2-0 victory on their way to promotion to the second tier at the end of that season.

Highlights of Adam Reach's last gasp equaliser against Preston in the 2016/17 season can be found below, his first goal for the club.

 

  • How to watch

​​​​​​​The fixture kicks off at 3PM on Saturday afternoon and iFollow match passes can be purchased from each club's respective websites.

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