Ah, the FA Cup weekend is upon us. Without being disrespectful to our hosts, not the most interesting of ties (I imagine they probably feel the same way!). Preston are struggling at the foot of the Championship – and have just appointed former Hull boss Phil Brown to try to stop the rot at Deepdale. They even had to suffer the embarrassment of losing against Derby in their last league outing.
On the personnel front I’m expecting Billy to mix things up a bit – making predictions even more difficult than usual. Paul McKenna has recovered from illness and this might be a good opportunity to get some game time into him, whilst Julian Bennett and Joe Garner both returned to Forest from their loan spells so might find their way into the squad depending on how experimental Billy wants to be!
Dexter Blackstock remains our only serious injury omission, whilst we are unable to call upon the services of our latest signing Marcus Tudgay as he’s already played for Sheffield Wednesday in one of the earlier rounds of the competition so finds himself cup-tied. Our hosts are reporting no injuries but have recently lost a number of loanees in the aftermath of Darren Ferguson getting sacked, there’s also rumour of oft-thorn-in-side Jon Parkin leaving for Cardiff.
Of course, we’ve already had a trip up to Preston this season – back in September when the aforementioned Parkin gave the hosts the lead, but two Lewis McGugan goals saw the Reds run out 2-1 winners. This time Preston’s economy has received a timely boost in these hard-hit times, salons in the town are excited by the arrival of the perpetually-orange Phil Brown who will be keeping the spray-tanners busy in Lancashire.
The new manager factor for the Lillywhites and the unpredictability of either sides team selection makes this a tough one to call. Personally I’m hoping Billy uses this opportunity to rest some of our players who’ve had a fairly busy time of it lately – particularly Morgan, Gunter and possibly Cohen too – and maybe a chance to give some of the fringe players a leg stretch like Thornhill, Lynch and Moloney. Also a good chance to get some game time into skipper McKenna.
With that in mind predicting the result is fairly meaningless – certainly Phil Brown will be looking to get an early confidence boost into his new charges at our expense. It would be tremendously good for our own confidence though if we can back up our last successful away trip to Ipswich with another win on the road, and hopefully get that ‘can’t win away’ monkey well and truly off our back for 2011.
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