It’s not easy for Ryan Lowe or any Preston North End fan right now to really decipher what the club’s best starting XI is.
The former Plymouth boss got off to a flying start to his time at Deepdale when he first joined, but when he launched the new campaign he struggled for the same result. Defensively his team was excellent but as the goals started to come and the team at the other end of the field struggled it caused the table to slide.
That means Preston is 15 nowth with just two wins from their first ten games – and a 2-0 defeat by Sheffield United at the weekend Lowe is back at the drawing board.
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His side have also only scored three goals in that string of games – so it begs the question, what is the best North End eleven that everyone is fit for? So here’s what the best team could be if you stick to the formation and everyone is fit.
There are some personnel and positional changes here that may or may not work, but could certainly bring all of the team’s most creative players onto the pitch at once. Alvaro Fernandez, the young full-back on loan from Man United, has proven he can be a bright spark for PNE. He therefore needs to keep starting but the problem was fitting him into the team when Robbie Brady relied on his deliveries and passing.
That could mean putting Fernandez in his favorite LWB slot and then adjusting accordingly by testing Brady in a CAM role. He could play at right flank instead, which may be more familiar to him, but it might be tough for Brad Potts, who has adapted well to the role. Brady was then able to capitalize on his deliveries behind the forwards, putting balls into them and still creating chances for the team while Fernandez had that cross.
Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay and Andrew Hughes may have conceded two goals over the weekend but it was very out of character for them and they’ve been solid otherwise. Neither defense should therefore be dropped, although Bambo Diaby and Patrick Bauer are two players who are not bad options as backups.
In midfield, Ben Whiteman is arguably the heart of the team and a mainstay in the squad regardless of who plays alongside him. In this case, it’s likely to be Ali McCann who, like Fernandez, has been one of the club’s most creative and exciting talents this year. He would be a more attacking option in midfield alongside Whiteman but would transform the field as a whole.
In terms of their forwards, it’s difficult to look past Emil Riis and Troy Parrott, even if neither is a regular shooter. When the back-up options are Ched Evans and Sean Maguire – who scored three goals in total last season – it would be hard to justify bringing either of them into the XI. Mikey O’Neill would be a good option instead, but he’s relatively untested at this level – although he definitely deserves a chance. North End may then need to stick with what they have on this one and keep two attacking forwards on the field which should increase their chances of scoring, especially with Brady right behind them and Fernandez also on the wing.