The Bluebirds have won four and drawn two since McCarthy replaced Neil Harris last month, while Preston have lost three of their last four.
Cardiff's return of 14 points from the 18 on offer under McCarthy is the best of any side in the division over that timeframe.
From out of nowhere, the Bluebirds have dragged themselves right into the playoff mix and could potentially be in the top six come the middle of next week.
City are six points behind a stuttering Bournemouth side in the final playoff spot, with the two sides set to meet next Wednesday.
Following that victory at Kenilworth Road, only Manchester United have won more games on their travels in English football's top four tiers than Cardiff since February 2020.
Cardiff's home form has not been as formidable over that period, though a draw against Millwall and a 3-1 win against Coventry City has at least ended a three-match losing run.
Preston's away results have been inconsistent to say the least, having alternated between defeat and victory in their last six games, most recently winning 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers.
Alex Neil's men followed that up with a 1-0 loss at home to Watford, however, and they have now won just two of their last nine overall.
That has seen North End slip down to 13th, four points behind Cardiff and 10 adrift of the playoffs - what is surely an insurmountable gap at this stage in the campaign.
Cardiff City Championship form: DDWWWW
Preston North End Championship form: WDLLWL
McCarthy stuck with the same XI for the wins over Coventry and Luton, which may remain the case on Saturday afternoon.
One player that is certain to retain his place in the side is striker Kieffer Moore, who has 13 goals in 26 Championship appearances this season.
Full-back Greg Cunningham was an unused substitute against Watford and will play no part against parent club Cardiff due to an agreement in his loan deal.
Former Wales international Ched Evans should lead the visitors' line, despite scoring only once in his first five league appearances for Preston.
Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Phillips; Morrison, Flint, Nelson; Ng, Vaulks, Pack, Bennett; Wilson, Moore, Murphy
Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Iversen; Browne, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Whiteman, Molumby; Sinclair, Johnson, Barkhuizen, Evans
We say: Cardiff City 2-1 Preston North End
Preston may have alternated between defeat and victory in their last six away league games, but only Norwich City (nine) have won more times on their travels this term than North End's eight.
However, Cardiff have taken more points than any other side since January 27 and have won back-to-back league meetings with Preston, so we can see them coming out on top in this one.