Manager Simon Grayson is expecting an opposition battling for their lives at Deepdale at the weekend, as his side entertain MK Dons.
And North End boss is expecting it to be a difficult encounter: “It will be a tough game,” he said. “They will be looking for a reaction after last week and will be fighting for survival. They are nine points off fourth from bottom with five games to go and they are not going to give up on it lightly.
“I know Karl really well. We have had battles with him over the last few years and they won’t give up the opportunity lightly to try and stay in the Championship after working so hard last year to get here.
“We had some good battles with them and full credit to them; they stuck on our coat tails and pipped us to automatic promotion, but it is a tough division the Championship. They will be disappointed where they are now, as will a lot of other teams, but it will be a tough game for us.
“We know what style of football they will play and they will fight for everything to give them a chance to stay up.”
The Lilywhites picked up their first win of the Championship season against the Dons back in August, making it three consecutive clean sheets to start the new campaign.
“It was just the third game in of the season when we played down there, having drawn against Middlesbrough and Rotherham, and it was another good performance,” continued the gaffer.
“We have played well down there.
“They have changed the squad a little bit, brought the likes of Williams in from Palace and Revell and one or two others, so we know what to expect.
“We respect the opposition, but as we always say, it is about us. We want to get back to winning ways. We don’t like losing two on the trot and we certainly don’t want to make it three. We have five games to go to keep improving and working. We have to have the same mentality and character as if it was the first week of the season and we will be doing that this weekend.”
A defeat for the Dons at Deepdale could make it almost impossible to escape the drop, however knowing the opposition manager well, Simon is certain that their diligence will mean his own side have to be at the top of their game to return to winning ways in PR1.
“Karl will have tried everything in his locker to try and make sure they stay up and it is not easy when you are competing with teams spending lots of money.
“MK Dons’ budget, like ours, will be in the bottom three in the division and recruitment can be very difficult, but paramount to trying to stay in a division.
“They haven’t had the breaks here and there, but it is so competitive. No one would have expected the likes of Fulham or Nottingham Forest to be down there, but this just shows how competitive and how hard the Championship is,” he added.