Ryan Lowe says the Preston North End squad are “champing at the bit” to return to action on Monday afternoon after what will be over three weeks without a game.
The Lilywhites head to Stoke City following a period which saw three of their Championship games postponed, with the last two of those falling due to Covid-19 cases in the North End team.
The majority of the players were back at the Euxton training ground on Thursday morning, though, in preparation for the opening game of 2022, against the Potters who face Derby County on Thursday evening.
Ryan told iFollow PNE: “The analysis team have done some good stuff on them already; we’ve watched some clips of them and we’ll go there tonight to watch them.
“They’re doing fantastically well in the league at the moment and we’ve got to make sure we look at their weaknesses and strengths because they are a good team.
“They’ve got some good players and we’ve got to try to put a game plan together for that game on Monday, so that’s why we’ll be there tonight to have a look at it and see what we can take from it.
“I think it’s one the lads are champing at the bit for at the moment. They’ve missed a little bit of football, missed a little bit of training and I can see the eagerness in the lads’ eyes that they want to get back to business, and getting back to business is playing against these type of teams in Stoke City.”
With just one day of training under their belts since returning to the training ground, it is not yet clear which players will be available for selection, but nevertheless the manager said he will certainly have a squad to take to the bet365 Stadium.
It will only be Ryan’s second time taking charge of the side – despite it being his fourth week at the club – and he admitted it has been a somewhat strange start to life as manager of Preston North End.
Ryan said: “Obviously in terms of the games that have been called off, we’d have wanted them to be played but that’s not been the case, through no fault of our own obviously.
“But look, I’ve relished every minute here. We’ve been putting a bit of work into the group, getting to know more of the staff, how they work, how I want them to work and what I need from them, and everyone around the building really which has been nice.
“I know we’ve had a bit of time off but we’ve put some more work into the group today and now we’ve got to turn our attention to Stoke City away because it’s going to be an important game, like they all are.
“We’d have liked to have played a lot more games let me tell you. That’s not the case but we’ve got to now relish the opportunity when they come along.”
At the time of writing, Stoke sit eighth in the Championship, but with a game to come against Derby County on Thursday evening, they could go into Monday’s game sat in a Play-Off place.
“We’re under no illusions, Stoke is going to be a tough test,” admitted Ryan. “They’re doing well in the league at the moment with some fantastic players. We’re not sitting here saying we’re going to go and beat them because that’s disrespectful.
“What we are going to say is we’re going to go there and respect them but not fear them because in terms of how we want to go, back-to-back wins in any division are important.
“Consistency is massively important and once we get that we’ll be a force, but you’ve got to respect the opposition you’re coming up against and put the game plan together for the lads to go and execute, and that’s going to be the plan for the next few days.”
Watch Ryan's full interview on iFollow PNE at the top of the page.