Academy coach Andy Fensome feels Friday's clash at Deepdale will provide his players with a “fantastic opportunity”.
PNE take on Rotherham United at the home of the first team at 2pm on Friday 9th December, giving North End’s youngsters the chance to play where, ultimately, they are aiming towards playing every week.
For most of the boys, it’ll be the first opportunity they’ve had to do so, and ‘Fenners’ is looking forward to seeing what his side can do on the big stage.
He said: “The best thing about it is it’s good for the lads, playing at Deepdale with the home draw.
“For some of those lads who have not played there it’ll be fantastic, and for some of those lads who have played already it’s another experience.
“It’s massive. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the players to showcase how they’ve been playing this season, because we’ve played some really, really good football, scored some goals and it’s just another chance for them to express themselves.”
North End have been impressive in recent weeks, navigating their way through an unbeaten November, before taking a point away to Shrewsbury Town last Saturday.
Some of the players have also been rewarded for their performances within the Academy, with three teenagers handed first team debuts so far this season.
Fenners added: “Players like Jacob Slater and Finlay Cross-Adair, they’ve had opportunities already this year and I’m sure those players that have had that will like to have more, and it gives their teammates here that goal to go for.
“As coaches, it’s our job to try and push the players as much as we can.
“The manager [Ryan Lowe] has been really good with them. He’s taken them on board and if they do well and produce then they stay, and the lads that are there at the minute are learning every day.
“They tend to grow up a little bit quicker [when they’re with the first team].
“They obviously get the same information but from different voices, and it’s good to see them trying to put it in practice when they do come back and play with us.”
While taking to the Deepdale pitch will be a first for many tonight, Fenners is certainly no stranger to the surroundings, having made over 100 appearances for the club during the ‘90s.
The former defender won PNE’s Player of the Year award for his efforts during the 1994/95 season and has fond memories of his playing days.
He said: “I loved playing at Deepdale years and years ago, so the players that are there now, the fact that we sit and watch every first team game, it should inspire them to go and want to do well on the pitch and they’ll be the ones being looked at.
“I’m going to be nervous because I always want the boys to play well.
“I always want us to do really well and win the game, so at the same time I’m hopefully there to encourage them.”