Its been two weeks in the waiting but Wednesday will finally look to bag their first points of the season, and drag themselves off the bottom of the Championship, at Deepdale this weekend.
Many predicted North End would be up there battling out for promotion alongside the Owls, but Paul Simpson’s men have endured a similar tough start with just a point to their name so far this season.
And although the new campaign may be just a month old, victory for either side on Saturday could prove crucial as they look to kick start their respective seasons sooner rather than later.
Brian Laws told the Sheffield Star:
‘They (Preston) are a club who in recent seasons have been in the play-offs or, as last season, in contention until missing out right at the very end.’
‘It means people have become used to having a winning side but here they find themselves down at the bottom and looking for that first win.
‘Well, people over there will be expecting them to get it tomorrow because they are not playing someone up at the top but a team at the bottom without a point. That’s why all the pressure will be on them.
‘Yes, we want to get off the mark too – and, for sure, something has to give tomorrow.’
Paul Simpson said:
‘We haven’t been silly over the last week, but we’ve done some hard running and what we are trying to do is replicate game situations.’
‘They have to perform and do the technical stuff when they are tired, which is what you find in games.
‘The only way we will be able to see if it has been right is over the next run of games.’
Preston NE Team News:
North End boss Paul Simpson will be looking to stop Preston hitting rock-bottom for the first time in 17 years on Saturday by applying an all-out attack approach for the visit of Wednesday.
The last two meetings between the two sides in Preston have finished 0-0 but both teams will be desperate to get the three points at the weekend.
And Simpson will be using Blackburn loanee Paul Gallagher on a wide role rather than a striker role to help boost the firepower in the Preston attack.
Goalkeeper Andrew Lonergan looks set to continue in between the sticks for the Deepdale club following another set back for usual first choice stopper Wayne Henderson.
But Paul McKenna is still sidelined for North End.
Player to watch: Andy Carroll
The Newcastle United loanee is highly-rated up at St James’ park and could be a real thorn in the side of the Wednesday defence on Saturday. The Owls were themselves linked with a move for the youngster, and they could find out what they’re missing out on at Deepdale.
Wednesday Team News:
Owls boss Brian Laws will be boosted by the return of recent signing Francis Jeffers who is set for a role on the bench.
The former Everton and Arsenal man has only got through one full match for the Owls thus far since making his move from Blackburn but has recovered from injury to be part of the Owls squad in Lancashire.
And Jeffers is not the only plus point for Wednesday with Brian Laws able to take a fully-fit squad to Preston.
Winger Wade Small may also be included in the squad after the former MK Dons man returned from a hamstring injury to come through the midweek reserve victory over Grimsby Town.
And the Owls boss will have a welcome selection headache for the match with new signings Etienne Esajas and Akpo Sodje both pushing for a starting role following substitute appearances in the defeat to Bristol City last time out.
Player to watch: Steve Watson
The former Everton and Newcastle United man is set to return to a centre-back role alongside Richard Wood and could be key in the Owls victory. Defensive problems have cost Wednesday this season and Owls boss Laws will be hoping to move to defence for Watson will guide Wednesday to victory.
Match Facts & Stats
Preston: Lonergan, Jones, Chilvers, Mawene, Davidson, Sedgwick, Nicholls, Carter, Pugh (Whaley 84), Agyemang (Ormerod 76), Carroll (Gallagher 69). Subs Not Used: Chris Neal, Hill.
Wednesday: Burch, Hinds (Bullen 46), Wood, Simek, Spurr, Whelan, O’Brien (Esajas 55), Watson, Johnson (Sodje 63), Tudgay, Burton. Subs Not Used: Grant, Lunt.
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 1-3 Preston
Saturday, February 3, 2007
The Owls were slipping away from the play-off places and fell to a 3-1 defeat to promotion-chasing Preston during Brian Laws’ worst spell in charge of the club last season.
Deon Burton had given Wednesday the early advantage after just four minutes but it took North End just minutes to level through Brett Ormerod before David Nugent struck either side of the break to give PNE all three points.
Preston wins: 38
Wednesday wins: 36
18/09/07: Burnley (H)
22/09/07: Hull City (H)
26/09/07: Everton (H) (Carling Cup)