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Match Previews

Preston North End Preview

10 February 2015

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There's no rest for the wicked as Chesterfield - fresh from their Notts County win - await another tough test, this time hosting fourth-placed Preston North End at the Proact Stadium.

Saturday's result has seen the Spireites open a three point gap from the play-off chasing pack, but with so many teams snapping at their heels it's a margin that will be quickly eroded without continued strong results.

Preston arrive at the Proact one place but eight points ahead of Chesterfield and have looked all season as though the play-offs are at the lower end of their ambitions, all setting the stage for an intriguing Tuesday night match.

Team News

Chesterfield will welcome back a couple of past Spireites heroes for the match, one from the distant and one from the not so distant past.

Striker Kevin Davies - who scored his 150th career goal on Saturday - started his career at Saltergate and played a starring role in the famous Spireites run to the 1997 FA Cup semi-finals, before embarking on a successful Premier League career and an England cap, and is guaranteed the warmest of return welcomes.

More recently, Daniel Johnson impressed this season on loan from Aston Villa, forming a near-telepathic understanding with striker Eoin Doyle during his time at the club. After leaving the Proact, Johnson made another loan move to Oldham Athletic before joining North End on a permanent deal in January.

Prolific striker Joe Garner is now back in first team contention on his return from injury, and came off the bench in the weekend win at Coventry City.

The Spireites come into the game without any new injury problems. Striker Caolan Lavery needs games as he works his way back to full fitness after his long injury lay off, but showed on Saturday that even at less than 100% he still has a great deal to offer.

Form Guide

Few who were there will forget the corresponding fixture from earlier in the season, the Lillywhites strolling into a three goal advantage before Doyle's second hat-trick in a week saw the Spireites steal the unlikeliest of points away from Deepdale.

Since that mid-September fixture, Preston have solidified themselves in the play-off places, and while they currently sit 11 points clear of seventh place, the five league win-less games before Saturday's victory have seen them fall seven points behind the top two. 

During the same period, Preston have lost to Walsall over two legs in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy semi-finals but beaten Sheffield United at Bramall Lane to set up a prestigious FA Cup hosting of Manchester United in the fifth round this coming weekend.

Home fans for Tuesday's match may be hoping Preston minds are wandering to their high-profile cup clash, though as former North End captain Sean Gregan pointed out in a weekly newspaper column, Tuesday's Proact match serves as a chance for players to do their all to prove their worth to be included in the game with the Red Devils.

Regardless of visiting mindsets, the Spireites showed on Saturday at Meadow Lane that they are improving their street smarts, responding to a battling Notts County team before scoring a second half winner.

From the Dugout

Ahead of the match, manager Paul Cook sat down to talk with Spireites Player, the full interview can be viewed here.

The Spireites boss knows that regardless of any big cup match on the horizon, Preston's manager Simon Grayson will ensure his side are focused only on Tuesday's match.

Cook said: "Simon's very experienced and he's got all kinds of promotions on his CV managing teams like Leeds United and Huddersfield Town, so I'm sure he'll be excited by the Man United match, but it won't faze him in his preparation for the game.

"They've had a little bit of an iffy patch at Preston, but when you're managing clubs like these an iffy patch is only two or three games."

Having seen North End play recently, Cook explained that he knows his side face a difficult task to wrestle any points from the match.

"I've been lucky enough to see them twice now," said Cook. "I watched them myself against Yeovil a couple of weeks back and I watched them with Mitch [Paul Mitchell, chief scout] at Sheffield United last Tuesday night and I thought they were very impressive.

"They score good goals and they've got good players in the team. they've got Daniel Johnson coming back here and of course Kevin Davies coming back is a special one for our fans.

"I think it'll be a good game, I like to think we're a good side and I know Preston are a good side. When you've got the players, the experience, the staff and the manager they've got they're very much a play-off team and they've still got an eye on catching the teams above them.

"We've got our hands full for the match, we're under no illusions about that."

Supporters unable to #PacktheProact for the match can listen to live full match commentary of the game on Spireites Player, follow minute-by-minute coverage on the club's Twitter feed or see score updates on Facebook.

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