Preston North End will look to pick up their first home points of the season when they face Birmingham City at Deepdale on Saturday afternoon.
Since the Lilywhites faced the Blues in the final home game of the extended 2019/20 season, this weekend’s visitors to Deepdale have had a change of manager, with Aitor Karanka taking up the hot seat at St Andrews.
The former Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest boss came up against Alex Neil in the 2015 Championship Play-Off Final, so they will certainly know plenty about each other’s styles and it will make it an intriguing encounter.
iFollow PNE will have all the coverage of the game, with Ross Wallace, the former PNE winger – who famously scored a fantastic late winner against Birmingham City to help his side reach the 2008/09 Championship Play-Offs – joining Jonathan Breeze for full match commentary.
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (9/46)
Date: Saturday 31st October, kick-off 3pm
Kit: 2020/21 home kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 39; Draws – 23; Birmingham City - 35
Both Ben Davies (ankle) and Ben Pearson (groin) are closer to a return to action, along with full back Darnell Fisher (hamstring), but Louis Moult continues his rehabilitation.
With a virus having hit the squad hard on Wednesday night, with Patrick Bauer withdrawn at half-time – on his birthday – due to the issues, the manager will have to make a late check on the health as well as fitness, before deciding on availability.
For the visitors, Aitor Karanka will have a headache in the middle of the pitch, after former Leeds and Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Clayton picked up an ankle injury in the late win over Huddersfield Town.
For the first time this season, north east official Tony Harrington will take charge of the Lilywhites for Saturday’s game.
He took charge of just one game last season, the home game with our last opponents Gary Rowett’s Millwall at Deepdale, but he has already refereed Birmingham City this season, their opening day win over Brentford at St Andrews.
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 7th game of the season and so far he had issued 19 cautions and no red cards.
He will be joined by assistants Nick Greenhalgh and Nik Barnard, whilst Shaun Hudson will be 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 captain Ross Wallace are on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from Deepdale from 2.45pm on Saturday afternoon.
Tom Barkhuizen Looking For Imagination And Creativity: Preston North End forward Tom Barkhuizen says the Lilywhites have to be more imaginative around the opposition penalty area as the side prepare to face Birmingham City at Deepdale. Click here for the full interview.
A Match To Remember: We go back to a night under the lights at Deepdale back in 1992 for our latest look back at memorable games of our next opponents. Click here for the details.
Alex Neil Says Onus On His Side: Preston North End manager Alex Neil says his side must take the responsibility to move the ball well and create opportunities as they face Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham City at Deepdale on Saturday. Click here for Alex’s thoughts.
A Foot In Both Camps – Birmingham City: We caught up with Mick Rathbone this week – a man who will certainly be taking a big interest in Saturday’s fixture between Preston North End and Birmingham City given his history with the two. Click here to see what he had to say.
Order Your Match Programme: The fifth edition of this season’s The One And Only matchday programme is available now for order, including a chat with Emil Riis. Click here to place your order.