Match Preview – Preston North End v Norwich City

Deepdale Stadium panoramic view (Credit: Hudson6dogs, Wikimedia Commons)

Alex Neil is expecting an “entertaining” game as his Preston side take on his former club Norwich at Deepdale on Wednesday.

North End are unbeaten in their last five games in the league.

Three of those have been wins, the latest being a 2-1 away win over struggling Bolton on Saturday.

Midfielder Alan Browne scored the opener, his 11th of the season in the league.

Tom Barkhuizen, restored to the starting XI in place of Jayden Stockley, added the second before Clayton Donaldson scored a consolation for Bolton late on.

Alan Browne scored his 11th goal of the season against Bolton (Credit: Preston North End FC, Wikimedia Commons)

North End face a Norwich side which sits top of the Championship, two points ahead of second placed Leeds, after their 3-0 win over local rivals Ipswich on Sunday.

Norwich boss Daniel Farke has revived Norwich’s Premier League ambitions, after a modest 14th place finish in his first season in charge last term was followed by a sharp increase in form this term.

Teemu Pukki, a free transfer from Brondby in the summer, has netted 20 goals since his arrival.

Teemu Pukki has 20 league goals for Daniel Farke’s side (Credit: Vyacheslav Evdokimov, Wikimedia Commons)

He scored a brace during Sunday’s win, with Onel Hernandez opening the scoring in the second minute.

Manager thoughts

Preston manager Alex Neil: “It’s a big game for both teams, we want the points to help us to continue moving up the table.

“Obviously Norwich will want the points to keep them at the top of the table.

“Alan Browne doesn’t get the credit he deserves, he does from everyone connected with Preston but not outside of that.

“For a midfielder to get 11 goals by this stage in the season is incredible.

“As I’ve said before I’m very grateful for the opportunity Norwich gave me because I was pretty much unknown at the time.”

Norwich manager Daniel Farke: “We have to be smart in terms of recovery because we have three games in the space of six days.

“Our opponent Preston right now is able to rest one more day than us and Bolton the same when we play them on Saturday, so it will be difficult.

“This will be a really complicated week and we have to be really switched on.”

Injuries

Norwich midfielder Mario Vrancic is a big doubt for the game with a knee problem.

He suffered the injury during Sunday’s derby win and was replaced by Alex Tettey deep into first half stoppage time.

Norwich could, however, welcome back midfielder Moritz Leitner.

The German has missed the last nine games with an ankle injury.

Daniel Farke’s long term absentees include Carlton Morris (ankle), Louis Thompson and Timm Klose (both knee).

Timm Klose (second from right) has missed the last four games with a knee injury (Credit: ZakNelson1995, Wikimedia Commons)

Klose is the closest to a return, with the Swiss defender expected to resume team training this week.

Preston boss Neil should have no new injury concerns.

Goalkeeper Connor Ripley suffered an ankle injury before Saturday’s win over Bolton and he could be out for an extended period.

Long term absentees Callum Robinson and Louis Moult (both hamstring) remain out, whilst Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop (both knee) are likely to miss the rest of the season.

Statistics

  • Norwich won 2-0 at Carrow Road when the two sides met earlier this season, with Teemu Pukki and Alex Tettey on the scoresheet
  • Preston’s Alan Browne has netted 11 goals this season, the highest return the Irishman has had in a league season (previous best of six last season)
  • Norwich’s Emiliano Buendia, Pukki and Onel Hernandez have all contributed with six assists so far this season
  • Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd is the only player in the current squads to have featured for both sides – he made 21 appearances for the Canaries, including 11 under Alex Neil in the Premier League