It’s back to Deepdale for the Lilywhites, with three home games in the next 11 days, starting with Xisco Munoz’s Watford arriving in PR1 on Tuesday night, for a 7pm kick-off.
It is the 36th league meeting between the two sides, with North End leading the head-to-head with 14 wins to the Hornets’ ten, their last win in Preston coming 15 games ago in December 1979.
However, this will be a very tough test for Alex Neil’s men, against a side who currently sit fourth and come into the game on the back of a 6-0 home thrashing of Bristol City at the weekend.
For the home side though, they too were boosted by the last result, with a tremendous derby day victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, with Liam Lindsay getting the winner with his first goal for the club, after Greg Cunningham’s superb opener on his first start since making the return to PNE.
Competition: EFL Sky Bet Championship (30/46)
Date: Tuesday 16th February, kick-off 7pm
Kit: 2020/21 home kit – click here to buy it now!
Head To Head: PNE wins – 18; Draws – 13; Watford - 12
Manager Alex Neil has no new injury concerns ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Watford and he will hope to have further options available to him, giving Anthony Gordon and Sean Maguire, who both missed the win at Ewood Park, as long as possible to make the squad.
Just long-term casualties, Declan Rudd, Patrick Bauer and Louis Moult are definitely out of the equation for selection against the Hornets.
For Saturday’s convincing win over Dean Holden’s Robins, Tuesday’s visitors switched to a 4-3-3 formation, with skipper Troy Deeney on the bench, as he was carrying a slight knock, but with such a big success, Xisco Munoz is not likely to make too many changes to a winning formula.
It’s Tony Harrington’s fourth game in charge of PNE this season on Tuesday night and his third trip to Deepdale – the last game he officiated being the win at Birmingham City last month.
Despite the quartet of games in 2020/21, he took charge of just one game last season, the home game with Gary Rowett’s Millwall at Deepdale, but 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 24 game of the season and so far he had issued 62 cautions and two red cards, including Joe Rafferty in PNE’s clash with Blackburn Rovers and astonishingly it will be his first Watford game of the season.
He will be joined by assistants Steven Meredith and Wade Smith, whilst the fourth official is Simon Mather.
North End fans can watch Tuesday’s game live on iFollow PNE, with purchases of a £10 match pass available now.
Jonathan Breeze and a former North End player will be on commentary duties, with replays, graphics and coverage from Deepdale from approximately 6.30pm on Tuesday evening.
Alex Neil: “It Is A Different Challenge”: Preston North End manager Alex Neil believes it is a very different Watford side to the one they faced at Vicarage Road at the end of November. Click here for the full interview.
The One And Only Issue 15: This Tuesday night the Lilywhites entertain Watford at Deepdale and the programme’s cover star is January signing Ben Whiteman. Click here for more information.
A Match To Remember: It is an astonishing 20 years since Andrew Lonergan made his league debut for Preston North End, when we faced this evening's opponents in front of the ITV Digital cameras on a Sunday lunchtime. Click here for the details.
Tom Barkhuizen On Confidence Boosted Squad: Preston North End attacker Tom Barkhuizen says the side will head into Tuesday night’s clash with promotion-favourites Watford with plenty of optimism. Click here for Tom’s thoughts.