Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers, founder member of the Football League back in 1888, meet for the 100th time in league encounters at Ewood Park on Friday night.
It is actually only our 48th trip to Rovers’ current home, however, with the first two games played at Leamington Road back in the 1880s.
Over 130 years on, the two teams are separated by just three points in the middle of the Championship table and will be looking to this Lancashire derby as a chance to kick on for the remainder of the season.
The last few trips to East Lancashire have seen anywhere up to 7,500 North End fans travelling to support the team, but it will be a different game this time around.
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (29/46)
Date: Friday 12th February, kick-off 7.45pm
Venue: Ewood Park
Kit: 2020/21 third ‘green’ kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 44; Draws – 30; Blackburn Rovers - 32
Manager Alex Neil was without skipper Alan Browne for last weekend’s game against Rotherham United, so he will need to check on the No.8 before the short trip to Blackburn.
Long term injured Declan Rudd, Patrick Bauer and Louis Moult are all still absent, otherwise there are no new injury concerns for the Lilywhites.
Blackburn have suffered an injury-hit season so far - especially in defence and midfield - but their options in the latter area have improved considerably in recent weeks with Bradley Dack and Lewis Travis returning to the first team after lengthy absences, while development squad appearances for experienced duo Elliott Bennett and Corry Evans look set to increase the depth of a squad that has welcomed a dozen new faces this season.
The gaps in the squad mainly remain at the back, where an entire back four of Derrick Williams, Daniel Ayala, Scott Wharton and Joe Rankin-Costello are still sidelined, having collectively missed nearly a season's worth of action between them so far in 2020/21. However, full back Barry Douglas could return this weekend after missing Rovers' last outing due to the birth of his daughter.
In the most recent blow to manager Tony Mowbray's options, German international midfielder Lewis Holtby has once again suffered the cruel fate of a lateral knee ligament injury for the second season in succession, leaving the field just 15 minutes after coming on as substitute in last weekend's defeat at QPR. The results of a scan look set to decide whether he will miss the remainder of the campaign.
Another highly experienced midfield asset, Bradley Johnson, has missed the past fortnight of action with a hamstring injury and the derby day is expected to come too soon for him to return.
Rovers' greatest strengths this season have been at either end of the field, with Belgian goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski - a summer signing from Gent - proving to be a match-winner on several occasions, while the reliable attacking trio of Ben Brereton, Sam Gallagher and Adam Armstrong - the latter sitting second in the league's scoring charts with 17 goals - have been able to line up together for all but a handful of outings this season.
The match referee for this Friday’s game is David Webb; taking charge of North End for the second time this season.
His first game was the 1-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday in November; whilst he has refereed two Rovers games in 2020/21, a 0-0 home draw with Middlesbrough and a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City.
We saw David three times in 2019/20, having officiated the Carabao Cup second round penalty victory over Hull City at Deepdale back in September, November’s 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic and the clash at Fulham’s Craven Cottage just before lockdown.
The Hull City tie was his first game at Deepdale since 2016, when he had the whistle in PR1 for our 2-0 home win over Peterborough United in the middle of the 2015/16 campaign.
In 2018/19 he officiated two PNE games, the away matches at Birmingham City and Derby County.
Overall then he has refereed the Lilywhites on 14 occasions, some of the most memorable games including the FA Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers, when Kevin Davies scored a stunning strike from 35 yards, and a 3-2 home win over Crewe Alexandra in 2011 in the league cup.
Overall, this season, he has taken charge of 22 games, issuing 56 cautions and four red cards. He will be assisted by Phil Dermott and James Wilson, whilst the fourth official will be experienced Championship official Oliver Langford.
North End fans in the UK and Ireland can listen Friday’s game live on iFollow PNE, with purchases of a £2.50 audio match pass available now.
Jonathan Breeze and former North End midfielder and captain Paul McKenna are on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from Ewood Park from approximately 7.15pm on Friday evening.
In some countries, where the game is not sold – check your local listings if the game is on – then match passes will still be available to watch the game – click below to see if it is available in your region.
Alex Neil: “The Onus And Duty Is On Us”: For the past few visits to Ewood Park, the Lilywhites have been backed by anything up to 7,500 supporters behind the goal. Click here for the full interview.
A Match To Remember: Back in 2016 Preston North End kept up an excellent run of form with a narrow win at ten-man Blackburn Rovers. Click here for the details.
Ben Whiteman Looks Ahead To Rovers Clash: Preston North End’s permanent January transfer window recruit Ben Whiteman is looking forward to his first taste of a Lancashire derby on Friday night. Click here for Ben’s thoughts.
A Foot In Both Camps: Preston North End’s fans’ voted player of the decade Paul Gallagher certainly has a foot in both camps this Friday, although he certainly sees Deepdale as his ‘home’. Click here to hear from Gally.