Preston North End v Brentford preview: Lilywhites looking to reclaim top-six spot against resurgent Bees

The Lilywhites will be aiming for a win to push them back in to a play-off berth at the hands of bogey-side Brentford

Preston North End v Brentford preview: Lilywhites looking to reclaim top-six spot against resurgent Bees
Preston players pile on in last season's win over Brentford (Photo by Stephen White - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Deepdale's dugouts will each feature a Kevin O'Connor cheering opposite sides on Saturday, as Preston North End host Brentford in the Championship.

Goal-fest on the cards at Deepdale

Summer signing Kevin O'Connor, who joined Preston from Irish side Cork City, is not expected to play after only featuring in a single Carabao Cup loss to Accrington Stanley. While Brentford's former captain of the same name - incidentally born in Lancashire whilst representing Republic of Ireland at under-21 level - now manages the Bees' B team.

Goals are to be expected if the two sides continue in the same style from their past few games. The West Londoners travel to Lancashire on the back of an enthralling 3-3 draw at home to Simon Grayson's Sunderland, where, clichéd as it sounds, they showed character to pull back a 1-3 half-time deficit.

Brentford's two wins this term leaves them in 18th place, but the Bees will take confidence in a six-match unbeaten run in the league.

Grayson may be regretting his decision to leave Deepdale, with successor Alex Neil taking them up a gear this season. Preston almost provided an even more impressive comeback than the Bees in their previous game, as they lost 3-2 at Wolves after falling 3-0 behind at Molineux.

The game will be remembered for a bizarre sending off, where midfielder Alan Browne walked down the tunnel before being called back onto the pitch by the referee, who then issued a red card to send Browne on a u-turn towards the tunnel.

Recent history

Despite Preston's superior league position, it is Brentford who will head into the game with their tails up if the head-to-head record between the teams is anything to go by.

Preston's 4-2 home win against Brentford in February halted a six-game losing streak against this weekend's opponents. Scott Hogan netted a hattrick as Preston were demolished 5-0 at Griffin Park earlier last season, and even in League One, Brentford had the upper hand as they clinched promotion with a 1-0 home victory.

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Team selection issues

Brentford will be boosted by the return of winger Sergi Canos, who played in O'Connor's B team in their impressive midweek victory away to Inter Milan. The return of the ex-Liverpool youngster means that top scorer Ollie Watkins may be trusted up front, where he frequently featured for Exeter City.

Watkins has scored four goals from left-wing this season, but Neal Maupay has struggled to settle in, and Lasse Vibe hasn't scored since returning from injury. The Bees must also decide on a centre-back partnership, with John Egan and Andreas Bjelland struggling against Sunderland. Yoann Barbet may return - the Frenchman unlucky to be dropped after two goals in three games.

A win could move Preston into the play-offs, and Tom Barkhuizen is one man almost guaranteed to start. The winger has started 25 games in a row, and will look to cause stand-in left-back Josh Clarke some problems on Saturday.

Ben Pearson has this week signed an extended deal, and North End will be even more reliant on the ex-Manchester United man after Browne's dismissal at Wolves. Paul Huntington will captain the side, and he features in a defence who conceded just four in their opening 10 matches, but have since shipped seven in their past three games.