Preston North End will look to bounce back this weekend after their first defeat in seven at home to Millwall last time out. Alex Neil’s side have the immediate chance to put that defeat right in front of their own fans as Hull City roll into town.
Grant McCann’s Tigers, whilst suffering from the key losses of star men Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki in January, still possess plenty of threats.
That was shown last week when they played host to a 4-4 draw with Swansea, four different players getting on the Hull scoresheet that day.
North End could welcome back Darnell Fisher into the fold after he missed the Millwall clash with a hamstring injury.
There has been more negative news on the Tom Bayliss injury front, however, with the 20-year-old having recently undergone ankle surgery.
Hull’s own injury list seems to be thinning in recent weeks, with Matthew Pennington, Ryan Tafazolli and ex-Liverpool midfielder Kevin Stewart all making a return to action last week. Jordy de Wijs, Reece Burke and former Arsenal youth product Jon Toral all trained this week and could play a part at Deepdale on Saturday.
With Bowen and Grosicki both having left the club, much of the attacking responsibility is likely to fall to on-loan Peterborough man Marcus Maddison.
Maddison has made an impressive start to life at the KCOM Stadium since joining on Deadline Day, scoring his first goal for the club in the 4-4 draw with Swansea.
He has the ability to create something out of nothing, is comfortable on the ball and provides both goals and assists. He scored nine goals and added six assists this season for Posh before making the move to East Yorkshire.
Striker Tom Eaves came off the bench during the Swansea game to provide the Tigers with a share of the points with a stoppage-time equaliser.
The 6′ 3″ frontman has tended to be rotated with Northern Irish international Josh Magennis in the lone striker role this term but offers a big aerial threat whenever he is on the pitch. Eaves is not blessed with pace but he is able to hold up the ball and bring others into play effectively.
His goalscoring exploits for the Tigers haven’t quite hit the heights as of yet – 4 goals in 30 appearances – but 38 strikes in the two seasons prior for League One Gillingham shows that the 28-year-old knows where the goal is.
With George Long top of Hull’s appearance list with 33 games played, Tigers stand-in skipper Jackson Irvineis second with 32. The Australian midfielder has worn the armband recently in the absence of regular captain Eric Lichaj and provides a calm presence in the midfield. His ability on the ball is impressive and he also adds a goal threat from deep.
Signed from Burton by Russian boss Leonid Slutsky in 2016, Irvine has 10 goals in two and a half seasons for Hull. He scored twice in the previous meeting between the two sides at Deepdale on Boxing Day 2018, in an eventual 2-1 win for Nigel Adkins’ side.
This week’s opposition view comes from Hull City fan, Bobbi Hadgraft. Thanks to Bobbi for this piece, it was last minute so it’s appreciated. You can find her on twitter here (@bobbihadg) if you’d be interested in a Hull City point of view.
Two points in the last six summarise current affairs at Hull City. A double departure of nightmares on deadline day has taken its toll and Grant McCann has had quite the task on his hands reshaping the squad to fill the gaps left by our star duo.
Our last league win came against Sheffield Wednesday after a positive run of form over the festive period. Those three points away at Hillsborough had brought us just a single point off the playoffs and at this stage, fans sights were set much higher than our current ambitions. We are now closer to the drop than the top six.
Some supporters are starting to doubt Grant McCann, who was appointed in the summer following the departure of much-loved gaffer, Nigel Adkins.
In McCann’s defence, we have had a monstrous surge of injuries. The absence of Jordy De Wijs, in particular, has notably stripped our formerly consistent defence of stability. We have also faced horrific luck with new signings.
Both James Scott and Herbie Kane are out with long term injuries. With this in mind, I think it’ll be another mid-table finish for the Tigers. I’d like to believe we have enough about us to avoid a relegation scrap, especially as our key players recover and our form, hopefully, picks up.
The last two games have been starkly contrasting. A midweek disaster against Blackburn left fans struggling to find positives as we conceded three goals within 7 minutes. Only three days later we faced Swansea on Friday Night Football.
Sky’s game selection couldn’t have been more apt. An eight-goal thriller culminating with a 95-minute equaliser earned us an unexpected point and sets us up well for the trip to Deepdale.
My prediction? 1-2. We are overdue a win and after last Friday we go into this game on a high.
De Wijs, Toral and Burke are also expected to be back in the squad which I believe will really lift us. However, Preston are a strong side who’ll be hungry to cement their place in the top six. The competition up there is fierce, so we can’t afford to be complacent. Whatever the outcome, this one should be an entertaining watch.
North End will be desperate to get back to winning ways this week with the business end of the season beginning to kick off.
Hull are a dangerous side under Grant McCann and have shown as much this season, albeit more when Bowen and Grosicki were still at the club. Beyond that, though, Irvine is proven quality at this level and Tigers fans are beginning to see the best out of Maddison, Malik Wilks and Leonardo da Silva Lopes.
However, I think North End at their best will prevail in this one. I think the scoreline will end up looking quite comfortable and that North End will finish up 3-0 winners.
In terms of the starting XI, I will go with the following: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Gallagher; Barkhuizen, Johnson, Sinclair; Maguire.
I think Fisher will return from the hamstring injury and will replace Tom Clarke at right-back. I also think Sean Maguire is going to come back into the side from the start for this one, too.
Finally, if you haven’t yet listened to the latest episode of From the Finney Meets… then we’ve got you. Episode #7 is out now with Andrew Lonergan. Jake and Lonners sat down and discussed his time at North End and the rest of his career. You can listen to the episode on all good streaming platforms or on our web player below.