Preston North End face Cardiff City in the sides’ first games after the international break, with the Lilywhites looking to build on their last game, the tremendous 4-2 win over Brentford.
The international players have returned to both clubs and the sides go head-to-head on Sunday lunchtime in front of the Sky Sports cameras, with a 12 noon kick-off.
The Bluebirds face Lancashire opposition for the second time in as many games, having drawn 0-0 with Blackburn Rovers last time out, despite being down to ten-men after the sending off of Lee Tomlin.
This is the first of seven games in 21 days for both teams before another international break and they will both be targeting a big points return, starting with three points from this encounter.
The Welsh side were the first team to visit Deepdale after the 2019/20 season resumed, back in June, and they will be looking for a similar result, when two late goals gave them the victory, but PNE will hope for a return to their home record against City, which had been very positive over a couple of decades.
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (5/46)
Date: Sunday 18th October, kick-off 12 noon
Kit: 2020/21 home kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 36; Draws – 23; Brentford - 35
Preston North End are still awaiting medical confirmation on the arrangements for Alan Browne, who was required to quarantine after one of his international team-mates tested positive for Covid-19 whilst he was away on international duty.
Daniel Johnson and Tom Barkhuizen are, however, both available again after the former recovered from injury and the latter served the reduced one-match ban for his red card against Stoke City three weeks ago.
Darnell Fisher and Louis Moult are still unavailable with hamstring and knee injuries, respectively, but Sean Maguire and Emil Riis have returned from their international escapades and are expected to both be available for the weekend.
For the visitors, Lee Tomlin misses out due to a one-match suspension after picking up two yellow cards in their goalless draw with Blackburn Rovers last time out.
Former PNE player of the year Greg Cunningham returned to EFL action after almost a year out, replacing the injured Joe Bennett recently and he could make his first run out at Deepdale since leaving the club on Sunday.
For the first time this season, taking charge of North End as referee on Sunday lunchtime is experienced official Keith Stroud.
He last took charge of North End for our 2-1 home win over Fulham last December, a game also played out in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Before that he also refereed of our win at Middlesbrough in March 2019 and the 1-1 draw with Swansea City back in January, his first game at Deepdale for a number of years.
In 2017/18, the Hampshire official took charge of two PNE games, both away from Deepdale, the first at Birmingham City back in September 2017, when goals from Tom Barkhuizen, Daniel Johnson and Jordan Hugill saw the side come from behind at the break to end Harry Redknapp’s tenure at St Andrews and the second, the win at Burton Albion in December the same year.
In 2016/17 his only game with the whistle for a PNE game was our loss at Brentford, whilst the previous season he also took charge of another game at Birmingham, as North End came from 2-0 down against what was then Gary Rowett’s men, with goals from Alan Browne and now Bluebirds defender Greg Cunningham earning the Lilywhites a point.
That was his second North End game in two months after he took charge of PNE’s home win over Sheffield Wednesday in February 2015, as well as PNE's last clash with a steel city side at Deepdale, 2014/15's FA Cup tie with Sheffield United. The win over the Owls was his last visit to Deepdale prior to January.
The official also refereed the Lilywhites Play-Off clash with Rotherham United in May 2014 as well as the previous season’s 3-2 home win over Ipswich Town, when Joe Garner scored a second half hat-trick as a substitute to knock the Tractor Boys out of the FA Cup at the fourth round stage.
His two previous league trips to Deepdale prior to that also saw wins, the famous 6-0 triumph over Cardiff City, which led to the Play-Offs in 2009 and a 2-1 win over West Brom the previous year, when the Lilywhites ended the game with nine men after the dismissal of both Youl Mawene and Chris Brown.
On Sunday, Keith will be assisted by Steve Meredith and Jonathan Hunt, with Dean Whitestone acting as the fourth official. It will be Keith’s fourth game of the season, having so far issued four cautions and no red cards, his last game being Bristol City’s 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest before the international break.
The game is live on Sky Sports, meaning it is not available on iFollow video, unless you are a season card holder who chose option one on the recent survey.
For those supporters, Jonathan Breeze and former North End skipper Paul McKenna are on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from Deepdale from 11.45am on Sunday.
You can also get the full audio commentary for just £2.50 on iFollow PNE, from Jonathan and Paul – which is available to purchase now.
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A Match To Remember: We go back to a celebratory New Year at Deepdale in a promotion season for the Lilywhites as we remember a previous clash with the Bluebirds. Click here for the details.
Declan Rudd Looking To Create Momentum: Declan Rudd hopes that his Preston North End team-mates will take the confidence gained from the away win at Brentford to create a spell of momentum, starting with a win against Cardiff City this weekend. Click here for Dec’s thoughts.
A Foot In Both Camps - Cardiff City: Popular former striker Jon Parkin left the Lilywhites to join Sunday’s opponents Cardiff City in January 2011, we caught up with ‘the Beast’ to preview the Bluebirds’ latest trip to Deepdale. Click here to see what he had to say.
Order Your Cardiff City Programme: This weekend’s matchday programme for Sunday’s game against Neil Harris’ Cardiff City is now available for order. Click here now for more details.