MX23RW : Saturday, April 20 09:07:58| >> :600:107712373:107712373:
Nov 21, 2015 at 3pm UK at ​Deepdale
Attendance: 19,852
PrestonPreston North End
BlackburnBlackburn Rovers
Garner (67')
Wright (90')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Pickford (32' og.), Rhodes (52' pen.)

Preview: Preston North End vs. Blackburn Rovers

Sports Mole previews the Lancashire derby between Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers.

Preston North End play host to Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon looking to extend their recent run of clean sheets to a seventh game.

Rovers travel to Deepdale with Paul Lambert taking charge of the team for the first time, and the former Aston Villa manager will be expecting an immediate return from a side who are unbeaten in their last three fixtures.

Preston North End

Simon Grayson the manager of Preston North End looks on prior to the Capital One Cup Second Round match between Preston North End and Watford at Deepdale on August 25, 2015© Getty Images

After earning promotion from League One, Preston North End began life back in the second tier with just one victory from their opening 10 games, but manager Simon Grayson has led a revival in recent weeks that sees the club sit four points above the drop zone.

Only two victories have come during six games - against Charlton Athletic and Nottingham Forest respectively - but it is their defensive record that has caught the eye, with clean sheets coming in their last six league fixtures.

It is a statistic made all the more impressive due to their failure to shut out any of their previous seven opponents, but it is an area of the pitch that they have had to perform in, with their attack currently the second worst in the division.

The positives would have been taken from goalless draws away at both Brighton & Hove Albion and Queens Park Rangers, but their failure to score in their home fixture with struggling Bolton Wanderers would have concerned Grayson, and efforts must be made to improve the balance between the front and the back.

Everyone associated with the club will be delighted with their recent form and achievements, but they need more from their first-choice strike pairing of Eoin Doyle and Joe Garner, who have just one goal between them all season.

Recent form: DWDDWD

Blackburn Rovers

Villa manager Paul Lambert gives the thumbs up against Swansea during the Premier League match on April 26, 2014 © Getty Images

After recording five points in three games before the international break, there appeared little indication that boss Gary Bowyer could lose his job at Ewood Park, but with two weeks before their next fixture, the club acted to replace their outgoing coach with Lambert.

In February, the Scot departed Aston Villa after a miserable run of results with the West Midlands giants, but as far as the Football League is concerned, he earned back-to-back promotions with Norwich City between 2009 and 2011 and it is those achievements that have proven desirable to Rovers.

Whether Lambert can record similar success in the North-West remains to be seen, but after a nine-month break, the 49-year-old has said that he feels refreshed and ready for the challenge at his new club.

With Blackburn 11 points adrift of the playoffs and just four above the relegation zone, a top-half finish may be deemed a solid target for the remainder of the campaign, but his biggest task could be persuading striker Jordan Rhodes to remain at the club past this season.

His fellow countryman has attracted attention from both the Premier League and Championship over the past 12 months, but convincing a player who has 82 goals in 147 starts in all competitions to stay at the club would be a major statement as he looks to form a team good enough to challenge for promotion back to the top flight.

Recent form: LDLWDD

Team News

Blackburn's Jason Lowe in action against Everton during a friendly match on July 27, 2013© Getty Images

Lambert has revealed that Jason Lowe is the only player missing from the squad for his first game in charge.

A number of players are pushing for recalls, but Lambert could retain faith in the same starting lineup that began the last match against Brentford.

Preston defender Tom Clarke is close to recovering from a shoulder injury, but this match is likely to come too soon for his return.

Will Keane could start in attack if Grayson decides to break up the combination of Doyle and Garner in the final third.

Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Pickford, Vermijl, Woods, Wright, Huntington, Reach, Browne, Gallagher, Johnson, Doyle, Garner

Blackburn Rovers possible starting lineup:
Steele, Marshall, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson, Taylor, Evans, Akpan, Conway, Lawrence, Rhodes

Head To Head

Despite not facing each other for 14 years, Preston and Blackburn have met 97 times, with Preston currently holding a 39-30 lead as far as wins are concerned.

Due to playing at different levels of the English pyramid, just four games have taken place since 1981, with Preston's only victory coming in the second leg of a League Cup tie in 1997.

When both clubs last featured in the second tier, Blackburn completed the double over their fellow North-West side.

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We say: Preston North End 0-0 Blackburn Rovers

With three of Preston's last four fixtures ending in goalless draws and Blackburn twice being involved in stalemates in their three most recent matches, we can only back the teams to end level in a contest lacking both goals and chances.

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Who will win Saturday's clash between Preston and Blackburn?

Manager Simon Grayson of Preston North End applauds the fans after the FA Cup Fifth round match between Preston North End and Manchester United at Deepdale on February 16, 2015
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