Preston North End head to Vicarage Road for the first time in almost ten years when they take on Vladimir Ivić’s Watford this weekend.
It was February 2011 when the Lilywhites last locked horns with their weekend’s hosts, with Sean St. Ledger and Leon Clarke scoring in a 2-2 draw.
Since then the two sides have had periods when they were two divisions apart, but now find themselves fighting for the same aim in the Championship, to get to the top flight.
Ivic’s side, who had a goalless draw at Bristol City in midweek currently sit fifth in the table with 23 points after a solid start to the season under their new boss and with a Premier League experienced squad at their disposal, it will be another good test for Alex Neil’s injury and suspension hit squad.
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (14/46)
Date: Saturday 28th November, kick-off 3pm
Venue: Vicarage Road
Kit: 2020/21 third ‘green’ kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 18; Draws – 13; Watford - 11
Where do we start?! Manager Alex Neil was without Louis Moult, Billy Bodin, Josh Earl, Ben Pearson, Ben Davies, Paul Gallagher, Josh Harrop and Andrew Hughes all through injury for the midweek clash with Blackburn.
Alan Browne picked up his fifth booking of the season in the clash with the Lancashire rivals, whilst Joe Rafferty much also sit out the game following his red card against Tony Mowbray’s men.
At the time of writing, the FA are still to hear the case relating to Darnell Fisher’s charge of violent conduct for an off the ball incident caught on camera versus Sheffield Wednesday. If he is found guilty, he will miss the game and potentially the clashes with AFC Bournemouth and Wycombe Wanderers as well.
Watford announced on Wednesday, prior to their game at Ashton Gate, that they had three first team player isolating after Covid-19 tests and they have stated that they will miss the with the Lilywhites at the weekend.
Meanwhile, Tom Cleverly was again absent for the midweek trip to the south west and he remains a doubt for the visit of North End, but Troy Deeney, who came off the bench in the second half could be set for his first start of the season.
Australian referee Jarred Gillett – who was the fourth official at Deepdale on Tuesday night - will take charge of his third Preston North End game for Saturday’s match.
The Aussie joined the EFL lists in 2018/19, after taking up an educational position in Liverpool, but he has been a top class official in his home country’s A League for many years.
He took charge of his first Championship game at the end of that season and joined the Select Group Two list in 2019/20. This season he has officiated ten games, issuing 36 yellow and two red cards, including four cautions in Watford’s goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday in mid-September.
His first trip to Deepdale was over the last Christmas period when he took charge of our last game of 2019, against Reading, as well as the club’s 5,000th league game against Derby County back in July.
Jarred will be assisted by Philip Dermott and Robert Hyde, with Adrian Quelch acting as the fourth official.
North End fans can watch Saturday’s game live on iFollow PNE, with purchases of a £10 match pass available now.
Jonathan Breeze and former North End defender Paul Sparrow are on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from Vicarage Road from 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon.
Alex Neil: “We Have To Go With A Real Determination”: Preston North End manager Alex Neil is expecting a tough test on Saturday, believing that the teams that came down from the Premier League in the summer are the three strongest squads in the division. Click here for the interview.
A Match To Remember: The Lilywhites picked up three points on the road in Hertfordshire back in 2003 when current Burnley boss Sean Dyche saw red! Click here for the details.
Paul Huntington Looking To Bounce Back: Preston North End centre half Paul Huntington is looking for the Lilywhites to give an immediate response as they head to Watford this weekend. Click here for Hunts’ thoughts.