PR: PRESTON NORTH END VS HULL CITY
This season all our Hull City previews and reports come to you in a growing collaboration with Hull City OSC. We’d like to thank Chairperson Kathryn Townsley and her great team for the continued partnership ahead of the new season!
As if it’s August already, dear me. After what feels like a whirlwind pre-season full of early arrivals despite a rather surprising embargo placed on transfers, the Championship season is upon us. Gone are the days where we look glumly at the fixture list, sifting through archives trying to remember the last time we played Accrington Stanley in a competitive league match. We’re back. Deservedly so, too.
For those of you that spent 2020 living in rural North Yorkshire without any electricity or access to morse code, City arrive back in the second tier as champions of League One. The momentum gathered from that final stretch was steam train like; fans, players and staff enjoyed watching Lewie Coyle lift that trophy and it felt like we could push on and establish ourselves at the level we’ve spent the most time at in recent years.
The arrivals, much like last season have been shrewd; the likes of Andy Cannon, Randell Williams, and George Moncur arrived on free transfers, while Nathan Baxter, Ryan Longman and Di’Shon Bernard have come in on loan from Premier League clubs. Reece Burke, George Long, Jordy de Wijs, Max Clark and Martin Samuelsen have departed, though only one of those would genuinely be seen as a loss given Burke’s experience at Championship level. Nevertheless, it provides an opportunity for young Jacob Greaves and Alfie Jones to make that centre back position their own, backed up by healthy competition from the likes of Bernard, McLoughlin and Festus Arthur.
The first test is one that City will relish. Preston North End finished 13th in the Championship last season, never in danger of going down, but never really looking like troubling the top six. On the transfer front, new manager Frankie McAvoy has brought in attacker Izzy Brown from Chelsea, Liam Lindsay from Stoke and Matthew Olosunde from Rotherham. Highly-rated centre half Sepp Van Der Berg has also joined the club on loan from Liverpool to add to what was already pretty good strength in depth, while goalkeeper Daniel Iversen joined as I typed this paragraph. They have, however, lost three strikers in Louis Moult, David Nugent and Jayden Stockley, while winger Billy Bodin and forward Graham Burke have also gone.
Preston didn’t have the most prolific of seasons in terms of goals, with winger Scott Sinclair topping their goalscoring charts with nine, followed by forward Tom Barkhuizen who managed six. Preston kept sixteen clean sheets last season, which isn’t bad going, but conceded 56 including a 0-5 defeat to Brentford.
McAvoy is likely to field a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Van der Berg and Greg Cunningham as wing-backs. Ryan Ledson is a classy midfielder while former City target Ben Whiteman is likely to start alongside him. A front two of Barkhuizen and Ched Evans (who needs no introduction after the Fleetwood debacle of last season) is very likely.
Player to watch: Alan Browne: Signed from Cork City as part of an Irish influx at Deepdale in 2013, the dangerous attacking midfielder sits in the number ten position and causes problems with his long-range shooting and vision. North End captain Browne now has over 250 league appearances for Preston, City would do well to keep him under wraps if they want a result.
Preston Team News
Matthew Olosunde is out, otherwise, PNE have a full deck to choose from.
Hull City Team News
George Honeyman will be the biggest miss, recovering from an injury picked up at the training camp in Scotland during pre season. He’s due back after the international break and won’t be rushed. Randell Williams will have to wait for a debut, as both he and Thomas Mayer have tested positive for Covid. Callum Elder is also out, but should be fine for the following weekend. This could see Josh Emmanuel or Lewie Coyle (probably Manny) go to left back, or Brandon Fleming brought in. Mallik Wilks wasn’t risked in pre season, but he’s fine and will no doubt start at Deepdale.
Predicted Hull City XI: Ingram, Coyle, Greaves, Jones, Emmanuel, Docherty, Cannon, Moncur, Wilks, KLP, Magennis.
Report by: Tom Haymes