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

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

Stoke City head into Saturday's Championship fixture with Preston North End looking to end a run of two successive defeats.

While the Potters are safe in mid-table, the visitors must respond to their 5-0 demolition at the hands of Brentford as they bid to avoid a relegation battle.

Match preview

Millwall's Murray Wallace celebrates with teammates after scoring their first goal against Stoke City in the Championship on April 5, 2021© Reuters

Having recorded seven points and three clean sheets from games against Cardiff City, Derby County and Bristol City, Michael O'Neill would have had high hopes for Stoke's remaining fixtures.

However, after months of being in contention for the playoffs, defeats to Millwall and Birmingham City have left the Potters in a battle to remain in the top half of the table.

Regardless of how the club's final five fixtures pan out, O'Neill will take the positives from a season of consolidation after losing key man Tyrese Campbell back in December.

Nevertheless, while there is little risk of the Irishman losing his job at the bet365 Stadium, he still needs to show the club's owners that he is the right man to lead the team forward during 2021-22.

Ched Evans in action for Preston North End in February 2021© Reuters

Despite Stoke returning 12 points from their last six home fixtures, Preston have preferred playing away from Deepdale since the turn of the year.

Three of their four victories have come on their travels, including a last-gasp triumph against promotion contenders Swansea City on April 5.

That said, interim boss Frankie McAvoy currently has the difficult task of lifting a group of players who have just succumbed tamely versus Brentford.

Still sitting clear of the relegation zone, McAvoy can select his team at the weekend with the comfort of knowing that a defeat is unlikely to have consequences come the end of the campaign.

Nevertheless, Preston's following two games are against Derby and Coventry City, meaning that North End can ill-afford another hit to their confidence ahead of the run-in.

Stoke City Championship form:
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

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

Team News

Preston's Alan Browne and Swansea's Jake Bidwell battle for the ball on September 12, 2020© Reuters

As well as switching back to a four-man defence, McAvoy is likely to make changes in personnel for this contest.

Alan Browne and Scott Sinclair could earn recalls to the Preston XI, while Anthony Gordon may also feature if McAvoy goes with three players in the final third.

Sam Clucas and Sam Vokes are both in contention to return to the Stoke side after their substitute appearances at St Andrew's.

Although O'Neill will begin thinking about next season, youngster Christian Norton will likely have to wait for his first Championship start.

Goalkeeper Angus Gunn may return between the sticks in place of Adam Davies, who was at fault for one of Birmingham's goals last weekend.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Davies; Chester, Souttar, Batth; Smith, Mikel, Clucas, Norrington-Davies; Powell; Brown, Vokes

Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Iversen; Van den Berg, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Whiteman, Ledson, Browne; Potts; Sinclair, Evans

SM words green background

We say: Stoke City 1-1 Preston North End

Having being outclassed in their last outing, it would come as a surprise if Preston do not place extra focus on their backline. However, Stoke are not firing on all cylinders at either end of the pitch, leading us to predict an uneventful draw in the Potteries.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw 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/Draw:data

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Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer pictured on March 17, 2021
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