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Preview: Preston North End vs. Norwich City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Championship clash between Preston North End and Norwich City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Runaway Championship leaders Norwich City will be looking to continue their charge back towards the Premier League when they travel to an out-of-form Preston North End side on Friday.

Norwich are currently top of the Championship, eight points clear of second-placed Watford, while Preston, who sacked manager Alex Neil on March 21, are down in 16th position in the second tier.


Match preview

Luton Town's Matty Pearson in action with Preston North End's Ched Evans on March 20, 2021© Reuters

Preston announced on March 21 that Neil had been sacked as head coach following a run of just one win in nine Championship games; the 1-0 home loss to Luton Town on March 20 proved to be the 39-year-old's final game at the helm, and Frankie McAvoy will be in charge on an interim basis for the rest of the season.

The Lilywhites finished ninth in the second tier last term but are currently down in 16th position in the table, nine points clear of the bottom three.

It is difficult to imagine Preston being pulled into any sort of relegation trouble in the coming weeks, but they have lost 20 of their 38 Championship games this season, which is the second-worst record in the division.

The strugglers have lost four of their last five in the league, meanwhile, picking up just a single point during that run, losing to Millwall, Wycombe Wanderers, Middlesbrough and Luton in the process.

McAvoy would not have wanted to be facing the Championship leaders in his first match in charge, but the international break has at least given the interim boss plenty of time to prepare for the contest.

Norwich City's Teemu Pukki celebrates scoring against Nottingham Forest in the Championship on March 17, 2021© Reuters

Norwich will not be in the mood to hand out any favours in this game, though, as they look to continue their impressive run of form in the Championship.

The Canaries had been on a nine-game winning run in the league before drawing 1-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers before the international break, with Sam Gallagher securing a point for the visitors.

Daniel Farke's side have not lost in the Championship since the start of February, and it is very difficult to imagine that they will not be playing Premier League football once again next season.

The gap to second-placed Watford currently stands at eight points, while they are 14 points clear of third-placed Swansea City, which is an indication of their strength in the automatic promotion positions.

The visitors will be looking to take advantage of any uncertainty in the Preston camp, but the Lilywhites secured a share of the spoils when the two teams locked horns at Carrow Road in September.

Preston North End Championship form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L

Norwich City Championship form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D


Team News

Norwich City's Teemu Pukki celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on March 6, 2021© Reuters

Preston will again be without the services of Alan Browne through suspension, while Jayson Molumby is a doubt, with the midfielder not expected to be back with the squad until Thursday, having been with the Republic of Ireland during the international break.

Louis Moult, Patrick Bauer and Declan Rudd are also still unavailable through injury, meaning that it will be a similar squad to the one that was available against Luton last time out.

Interim boss McAvoy is expected to resist the temptation to make wholesale changes, although Tom Barkhuizen and Sean Maguire could both come into the starting side.

As for Norwich, on-loan Burnley defender Ben Gibson will miss the remainder of the season due to a serious ankle injury, while Adam Idah is also out following a hernia operation.

Lukas Rupp could return from the hamstring problem that forced him to miss out against Blackburn, but a number of players have been away on international duty, meaning that Farke will need to assess the fitness of the returning individuals before making a decision on their involvement.

Christoph Zimmermann should replace Gibson at the back, while Jakob Sorensen could come in for Dimitris Giannoulis, but the Canaries might otherwise be unchanged from the clash with Blackburn.

Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Iversen; Van den Berg, Storey, Lindsay, Rafferty; Whiteman, Ledson; Maguire, Johnson, Barkhuizen; Evans

Norwich City possible starting lineup:
Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Zimmermann, Sorensen; Skipp, McLean; Buendia, Dowell, Cantwell; Pukki


SM words green background

We say: Preston North End 1-2 Norwich City

McAvoy will have his Preston players fired up for Friday's game against the best team in the league, but the home side could ultimately come up just short; we are expecting an improvement from the Lilywhites, who have underperformed this season. Norwich's form is so strong, though, and we fancy them to secure another three points.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data


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Norwich City manager Daniel Farke pictured in February 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
2Watford432510860283285
3Bournemouth4322111071413077
4Swansea CitySwansea4322101152341876
5Brentford422015772413175
6Barnsley42218135446871
7Reading4219101357461167
8Queens Park RangersQPR431711155151062
9Cardiff CityCardiff4316131459471261
10Millwall431417124142-159
11Middlesbrough431610175048258
12Stoke CityStoke421414144546-156
13Luton TownLuton41168173646-1056
14Preston North EndPreston43157214455-1152
15Bristol City42156214156-1551
16Blackburn RoversBlackburn431311195449550
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest421213173441-749
18Coventry CityCoventry421212183956-1748
19Birmingham CityBirmingham421212183250-1848
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield421211194562-1747
21Derby CountyDerby431110223151-2043
22Rotherham UnitedRotherham41117234255-1340
23Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds43129223655-1939
24Wycombe WanderersWycombe42810243266-3434

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