Preston North End travel to Birmingham City on Wednesday night looking for three points from their second away game in a row.
With the away game in the FA Cup, by the time they return to Deepdale on Sunday, it will be more than three weeks since a home game and Alex Neil’s side will be looking to head back to PR1 with another three points on the road.
A Sean Maguire goal mid-way through the first half was enough to give PNE the win on their last trip to St Andrews, whilst this will be their first of two visits there in the second half of this season, with Coventry City also still to play at the end of April.
This the 99th game between the two sides in all competitions, with North End looking to extend their lead in the overall head-to-head, with 39 wins to the host’s 36.
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (25/46)
Date: Wednesday 20th January, kick-off 7.45pm
Venue: St Andrews
Kit: 2020/21 third ‘green’ kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 39; Draws – 23; Birmingham City - 36
Manager Alex Neil has no new injury concerns ahead of Wednesday’s trip to the second city, with plenty of options to choose from.
The gaffer revealed that he would have Billy Bodin back out on the grass for the first time since his operation this week, but he will now need time to get up to full fitness, leaving just long-term casualties, Louis Moult, Patrick Bauer and Declan Rudd sidelined.
Birmingham City boss Aitor Karanka made five changes to his side for their weekend win over Middlesbrough and seems unlikely to alter their successful 4-2-3-1 approach to that game.
However, he does have plenty of options if he chooses to change it, with match winner Scott Hogan having Lukas Jutkiewicz and Jonathan Leko as potential replacements if the Spaniard chooses to rotate his frontmen.
It’s Tony Harrington’s third game in charge of PNE this season on Wednesday night, having also refereed the reverse fixture back in October.
Despite the trio of games in 2020/21, he took charge of just one game last season, the home game with Gary Rowett’s Millwall at Deepdale, but in 2018/19 he took charge of three PNE games, the March trip to Reading, the 2-0 cup win at Leeds United back in August 2018 and the home game against West Bromwich Albion that autumn.
Tony has been a familiar face over recent seasons. In 2017/18 he visited Deepdale twice,
the Lilywhites’ opening day 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in Alex Neil’s first competitive game in charge of the club, and our Bank Holiday Monday clash with Derby County.
The previous season he also took charge of another two North End games, the 1-1 draw away at Nottingham Forest and the thrilling 4-2 win over Brentford at Deepdale.
The match official, who is now in his tenth year on the EFL list, has also been to PR1 on a number of previous occasions in the past, including the 2014/15 penalty win against Oldham Athletic in the JPT and the club’s last two home league games against Notts County, including a 2-0 win over the Magpies at Deepdale in February 2014.
This will be the Cleveland referee’s 19 game of the season and so far he had issued 47 cautions and two red cards, including Joe Rafferty in PNE’s clash with Blackburn Rovers and astonishingly it will be his fifth Blues game of the season and his fourth trip to St Andrews already!
He will be joined by assistants Phil Dermott and Rob Smith, whilst experienced Championship referee Jeremy Simpson will be the fourth official.
North End fans can watch Wednesday’s game live on iFollow PNE, with purchases of a £10 match pass available now.
Guy Clarke and former North End defender Michael Jackson are on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from St Andrews from approximately 7.15pm on Wednesday evening.
Alex Neil On Blues Clash: Preston North End manager Alex Neil is hoping his side can pick up two good results this week leading into a run of free midweeks for the first time this season. Click here for the full interview.
A Match To Remember: This latest look back to a previous fixture against our next opponent sees us head back to September 2017 when the Lilywhites came back from an early setback to end Harry Redknapp's spell as Blues boss. Click here for the details.
Andrew Hughes Pleased With Trust Of Manager: Preston North End defender Andrew Hughes says that recently being handed the captain’s role for a game was the proudest moment of his time at the club so far. Click here for Andrew’s thoughts.