With the departure of Graham Westley at Deepdale, it is all change again for the Lilywhites, as the npower League One leaders, AFC Bournemouth, arrive at Deepdale for a mouth-watering clash.
Westley’s former assistant boss John Dreyer takes the helm single-handedly, with first team coach Dino Maamria also following Westley out of the door on Thursday.
The Lilywhites face a side who have only lost one league game since October 6th – at Walsall on January 19th – and have won their last five games to go one point clear at the top of the table.
They have shown their abilities as the highest payers and top spenders in the division since Eddie Howe returned to the Club at the start of that tremendous run, following a two-year sojourn over with North End’s east Lancashire rivals Burnley.
He has brought back forward Brett Pitman and then flexed their the financial muscles of owner Max Demin during the January window to recruit Swindon’s top scorer Matt Ritchie for half a million and also exciting winger Ryan Fraser.
It will be a tough test for the Lilywhites, but one that everyone is looking forward to at the Club – so get down and support ‘Tumble’ and the boys topple the high-flyers!
Cherries boss Howe is hoping Marc Pugh will be ready to hand his team a timely fitness boost ahead of Saturday's trip to Preston.
The Lancashire-born winger, who has scored eight goals in 33 appearances this term, was forced to sit out the south coast club’s away win over Crewe on Tuesday night.
The former Clarets gaffer is also monitoring the fitness of skipper Tommy Elphick after he sought a second opinion on his knee problem in midweek. Left back Charlie Daniels has been ruled out as he continues to rest his foot problem in a bid to avoid undergoing surgery.
John Dreyer could be down to the bare bones of his squad. Jack King, Stuart Beavon and Joel Byrom all sat out what proved to be Graham Westley’s final game in charge at Yeovil Town on Tuesday night.
Ben Davies (calf) and Chris Beardsley (broken foot), were both withdrawn in the second half and look set to join the previous trio and long-term absentee Scott Laird on the sidelines.
Skipper John Mousinho returned to training on Thursday, but the game will probably come too soon for the PNE No.21. Keith Keane is also not ready to start a game, although he did come off the bench for his first run out since November in the clash at Huish Park.
One bonus for the caretaker boss is the return from suspension of Bailey Wright. The Aussie defender has served the one match ban that he received for his two yellow cards at Colchester last weekend.
One To Watch – Lewis Grabban
The 25-year-old striker has already got 13 goals to his name for the Cherries this season. The former Crystal Palace trainee, signed for AFC Bournemouth in the summer for a fee believed to be around £300,000.
He made his debut in August, scoring on his home debut in a 1–1 draw against MK Dons. In November, he scored a hat-trick in a 4–1 win against Oldham Athletic and during December, Lewis played five games scoring three more.
The Manager – Eddie Howe
The 35-year-old Amersham-born boss became the youngest manager in the Football League when originally appointed Bournemouth boss back in 2009, started his playing career with the Cherries in 1994.
He soon established himself as an important player for the club, impressing many with his performances, with his form earning him a call-up to the England U21s squad for the Toulon Tournament in 1998.
After eight years at Bournemouth, during which time he made 201 appearances, Howe left Dean Court for the first time in March 2002, as he became Harry Redknapp’s first signing at Portsmouth. However, Howe’s time at Fratton Park was to be disrupted by injury as he made just two appearances during his time at the club.
A knee injury picked up on his debut for the club against Preston North End ruled Howe out for the rest of the season, and although he returned for the opening game of the 2002/03 season against Nottingham Forest, he lasted just nine minutes before a second knee injury ruled out for the entire campaign.
Howe returned to Bournemouth for the first time at the start of the 2004/05 season Portsmouth once again loaned him. He proved to be successful on his return to his first club, and in November 2004 Bournemouth re-signed him permanently on a free transfer, after chairman Peter Phillips made an appeal over the Internet for fans to pledge money to buy Howe. Such was Howe's popularity at Dean Court, the club received pledges of £13,500 in less than two days.
He was appointed as caretaker manager in late 2008, before taking over permanently a month later, as he brought the club out of the relegation zone despite a 17 point deficit at the time of his appointment.
Under Howe, Bournemouth started the 2009/10 on fire, winning eight of the first nine games – a club record. Despite a transfer embargo being placed on the club, he led the club into League One at the end of the season as they secured promotion with a 2-0 away win over Burton Albion. He left Dean Court to take over as the new Burnley manager, but not before he’d taken charge of his 100th game for the Cherries.
With Bournemouth sitting in the relegation zone at the time of Howe’s return to Bournemouth from Turf Moor in October, having won just one game all season, the Cherries embarked on an 18-game unbeaten run as they marched up the table into the Play-Off places.
The Referee – Geoff Eltringham
The man in black is from Sunderland. His last game was also in the north west, taking charge of Blackpool’s home defeat to Barnsley a fortnight ago.
This season he has officiated 22 games, giving out 56 yellow cards and sending five players off. He has refereed the Lilywhites on three previous occasions, two away games at Sheffield Wednesday and Bury last season and just once at Deepdale, in October 2010 when the Lilywhites defeated Crystal Palace 4-3. He has never taken charge of an AFC Bournemouth game before.
Make sure you get down to Deepdale and back the boys into a new era.
The Club is calling for all supporters to turn out in force this weekend as the Lilywhites welcome table toppers Bournemouth to Deepdale. In search of their first three points at home in 2013, come and play your part and roar PNE to victory with tickets now on sale.
Normal matchday prices apply, with adults starting at £20, seniors (over 60s) £14, young adults (16 to 18) £14, full time students £14, juniors (8 to 15) £8, under 8’s free and disabled plus helper £20
- Tickets are on sale from the ticket office at Deepdale; via the ticket hotline on 0844 856 1966 and online at MyPNE.com.
Can't Get To The Game?
PNE Player will be broadcasting full match commentary from Deepdale, meaning if you can't get to the game you can still hear every kick of the action, uninterrupted and live.
Jonathan Breeze and Anthony Wareing will be on air from 2.30pm to bring you all the action, so make sure you are signed up and signed in to keep in touch with your team.
Click here to have a bet on the game
Click here to log into PNE Player and watch previews with the three Johns; Dreyer, Mousinho and Welsh
Click here to read John Dreyer’s pre-match thoughts
Click here to read Bailey Wright’s fans’ rallying cry
Click here to read Keith Keane’s thoughts on a return to action
Click here to read what's in a packed and late printed matchday programme - to include views of the caretaker boss
Click here to buy tickets or the programme online