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Opposition Lowdown: Ryan Lowe’s Preston North End

Reading play their last home game before the World Cup this Friday when they face Preston North End under the lights at The SCL Stadium.

Preston North End v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images


Preston finished in 13th place in the Championship last season, for the second season in a row. They currently sit in eighth place in the league following seven wins, seven draws and five losses and have been clean-sheet specialists, having seen 11 shutouts in 19 games.

They have found goals slightly harder to come by, having scored the fewest in the league with only 14 to their name to date. Their latest form has been mixed, having seen three wins and three losses in the last six games.

Reading claimed a double over Preston last season, winning 2-1 at the SCL Stadium in August and 2-3 at Deepdale in February this year.

The boss

Ryan Lowe: Lowe took over as Preston manager in December 2021 following Frankie McAvoy’s sacking. The former striker started his managerial career at Bury in 2018 and had a strong start to his new career, guiding the club to promotion to League One after a second-placed finish, while winning three manager-of-the-month awards along the way.

He left Bury that summer, dropping back down to League Two to join Plymouth Argyle. Lowe helped Plymouth secure promotion back to League One in his first season, with the club finishing third in the league. He kept the side in League One the following season, before joining Preston midway through the 2021/22 season.

Preston usually adopt a 3-5-2 formation with Lowe liking his sides to have an aggressive style of play. They have looked particularly strong defensively this season but a little goal shy in attack.

Preston North End v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mick Walker - CameraSport via Getty Images


Preston saw a number of players depart Deepdale this summer with 13 players leaving on free transfers. Key outgoings included wingers Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair, defenders Joe Rafferty and Paul Huntington, attackers Josh Harrop and Izzy Brown and goalkeeper Connor Ripley.

Four players joined the club on permanent deals, with goalkeepers Freddie Woodman and David Cornell arriving from Newcastle United and Peterborough United respectively, midfielder Ben Woodburn joining from Liverpool and Robbie Brady signing after his release from Bournemouth. They have also seen striker Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur) and left back Alvaro Fernandez (Manchester United) sign on season-long loans.

Ben Whiteman will miss out after coming off with a thigh injury in midweek. Defender Patrick Bauer and striker Troy Parrott are also expected to miss out due to injury.

Expected line-up

Woodman, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Ledson, Potts, Brady, McCann, Brown, Evans, Riis

Key player

Freddie Woodman: Goalkeeper Woodman signed for Preston this summer on a permanent deal from Newcastle United. He started his youth career at Crystal Palace but joined the Newcastle youth team in 2013. Woodman had a number of loan spells, representing Hartlepool, Crawley Town and Kilmarnock prior to making his Newcastle debut in January 2018.

He went on to make further loan spells with Aberdeen and Swansea City, who he spent back-to-back seasons with from 2019-2021. He made five first-team appearances for Newcastle following his time in Wales, before spending the second half of last season on loan at Bournemouth.

Woodman has represented England at every level from under-16 to under-21. He is a strong shot stopper who has the highest number of clean sheets in the Championship so far this season, with 11 to his name.

One to watch

Ben Woodburn: Midfielder Woodburn signed for Preston this summer, following the end of his contract with Liverpool. The Welshman had been with Liverpool since the age of seven, but only made 11 appearances for the club, following his debut in 2016. He has had a number of loan spells in his career to date, playing for the likes of Sheffield United, Oxford United, Blackpool and Hearts, where he spent all of last season.

Woodburn made his Wales debut in 2017 and has gone on to win 11 caps for his country. The 23-year-old typically plays in centre midfield or in the number 10 role and is an effective passer with a keen eye for a through ball.