Preston will look to end a run of 6 games in all competitions without a win as they face a Charlton side who have fallen considerably since their very impressive start to the campaign.
The reverse fixture will certainly stick in the minds of most North End fans as it saw Preston go top of the championship – even if it was only for 24 hours and only on goal difference. But, top of the league is top of the league.
North End’s form has dipped considerably since the last international break and we seem to have lost our scoring touch too. In addition, at the start of the season, our home form was nothing short of incredible but that has also taken a hit of late.
It would have been unrealistic for anyone to expect us to go a whole season unbeaten at home though. However, let’s hope the Charlton game sees us get back on track.
Hopefully, we will see a home debut for new signing Scott Sinclair, but a start is unlikely for the former Celtic man who Alex Neil has said will be brought in gradually as he builds up fitness. Fans must remember that he’s not played much in the last few months so it’s more than likely he’ll be brought into the starting XI over a period of a few weeks.
The signing has certainly boosted the feeling amongst the North End faithful who’ve been pretty negative after recent results. Out of the last 5 league games we have picked up 3 points with 3 draws from a possible 15. So a signing of the experience in Scott Sinclair is without a doubt a boost and brings with it some positivity.
As for our opponents, it was reported on Monday morning, from the Peterborough chairman himself on twitter, that Charlton have had a bid accepted for Posh midfielder, Marcus Maddison. The 26-year-old who has netted 6 times already this season, has been given permission to discuss personal teams with Charlton, leaving the potential for a transfer to be wrapped up before the weekend and Maddison to be involved for the trip to Deepdale.
This could be a replacement for attacking midfielder Connor Gallagher who was recently recalled from his season-long loan from Chelsea.
Charlton are currently 19th in the championship, sitting just 5 points above the relegation zone having dropped off considerably since the start of the campaign where they were in and around the play-offs.
They’re without a win since Boxing Day after a late comeback against Bristol City, but their last win on the road was at the end of August against Reading.
One of the main dangers is Charlton’s striker Lyle Taylor. The frontman had a flying start to the campaign scoring in 5 of the 6 games in August before picking up a knee ligament injury while on international duty. He was out of action for a number of months and only returned to first-team action recently.
There has been controversy over the forward’s future recently after he rejected a contract offer from Charlton. It is believed the Addicks are open to offers in this window which may spark interest from a number of Championship clubs.
The Montserrat international has 28 goals in 50 league appearances for his club after singing in the summer of 2018. He clearly has goals in him and has proven it at this level after his start to the campaign but he’s yet to show it long term after his injury.
He has only managed 13 appearances this season due to his injury, but 7 goals and an assist in those games isn’t a bad return. Also, he’s touch and go for Charlton’s trip to Deepdale this weekend.
Another player to keep an eye on is one North End fans will be well aware of in Andre Green. Although we didn’t get to see him often at all, he’s played a couple of times for Charlton since joining on loan and will be desperate to prove a point against his former teammates and manager.
This week’s opposition view sees the return of Charlton fan, Freddie Saunders. You can find Freddie on twitter here – @ValleyFloydFred.
Since Charlton Athletic played Preston North End on the 3rd November at The Valley, Charlton’s point tally has not changed drastically. The Addicks have seen as many as 15 first team players out, which has led to Lee Bowyer recalling youngsters from lower down the footballing pyramid just so he can field a team each week.
One of the positives of the injury crisis, if you can find one, is the emergence of Josh Davison and Alfie Doughty. Both from Charlton’s academy and both seem to have something about them.
Alfie Doughty has seized the opportunity given to him and will be pushing for a first-team spot every weekend in my opinion, even after the injury crisis is over.
Due to a lack of investment in the summer window, which has resulted in an extremely thin squad, Charlton Athletic have not been able to weather this injury storm. Despite the great start, where at one point the Addicks were sitting second in the league, we’re now sitting in 19th, five points off relegation.
Charlton have only been able to pick up one win since playing Preston in early November, which was against Bristol City on Boxing Day. Nothing highlights the injury crisis more than the FA Cup fixture against West Brom a couple of weeks ago, where a 16-year-old from the Charlton academy made his debut and was up against Gareth Barry.
The transfer window has now been open for two weeks, and the news does not get any easier for Charlton fans. Jonathan Leko who was Charlton Athletic’s top goal scorer suffered a knee ligament injury against QPR and is ruled out for the rest of the season, which saw his loan deal cut short.
Beram Kayal has also returned to Brighton after he suffered a groin injury, which sees his loan deal also cut short.
Finally, for the cherry on top, Chelsea have recalled Conor Gallagher, who has been somewhat of a talisman for the Addicks amid said injury crisis. They have since sent Gallagher on loan to fellow Championship side, Swansea City.
However, Charlton did conduct some early business with Andre Green coming in on loan from Aston Villa, who played a part in helping the Villans get promoted last season. Green’s league debut was last weekend, and it was evident off the bat, that his pace is something Charlton have been looking for.
All of this considered, Preston can expect an U23s side, with a few fit senior players at the weekend. That does not mean the game will be easy. A similar side was put out against West Brom last weekend, and the side was able to hold out for a 2-2 draw against the league leaders.
Off the pitch, the situation is very much improved. On January 2nd, Charlton Athletic confirmed that an Abu Dhabi consortium, by the name of East Street Investments (ESI), had concluded their takeover.
The new Chairman, Matt Southall has already had heavy amounts of engagement with the local community and the fan base. The communication from the group is very positive and the new people at the club are saying all the right things in terms of sustainable growth and ambitions. All Charlton fans hope to see that translated when it comes to decision making.
No doubt Charlton Athletic will have a few more players in by the end of the window, with a bid for Marcus Maddison already being accepted, but unfortunately probably not in time for the game at the weekend.
I am predicting a Preston North End win, 2-1. As for the XI, I’ll go with the following in a 4-diamond-2: Philips; Matthews, Lockyer, Sarr, Purrington; Pratley; Deji, Dempsey; Morgan; Green, Davison.
I think this game could prove crucial to getting our season back on track and getting a home win back under our belts. The game finished 1-0 at The Valley with North End the more dominant side despite only winning the game through a Paul Gallagher penalty.
I think Neil will make changes to the team which earned a point in the local derby at Blackburn last Saturday. There were a few decisions as far as players in the starting XI that the fans were certainly questioning.
I think Tom Clarke will be dropped with Darnell Fisher coming back into the side, and potentially a change in midfield with Paul Gallagher failing to have any sort of real impact on the game at Ewood Park.
I predict the starting XI to be: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty; Browne, Pearson; Barkhuizen, Harrop, Maguire; Nugent.
I think it will be a 2-0 home win. 3 points, a win under our belts and hopefully a kick up the league in the right direction toward the top 6.
Finally, I hope we’ll see a bit more of Scott Sinclair. I would imagine he’ll be given longer than the 10 minutes or so that he got against Rovers as he starts to increase his match fitness and get closer to pushing for a starting berth in Alex Neil’s side.
Don’t forget that BOTH parts of From the Finney Meets… Iain Hume are available to stream wherever you get your podcasts from. You can also listen to them on our podcast website – podcast.fromthefinney.co.uk or hit play on the embedded players below. It’s safe to say, Humey doesn’t hold back!
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Part 2 👇🏻