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We’ve been to Dublin to play Shamrock Rovers, we’ve split the squad to play games at Alfreton and Kidderminster and tonight we move closer to home with a pre-season game at Deepdale against Preston North End.

The first time I ever saw Burnley at Deepdale was in a friendly back in March 1968. It was FA Cup 6th round weekend and we played there on the Friday night before the youth team took centre stage on the Saturday at Bramall Lane in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final. It was our first game there since the top flight clashes had ended with their relegation in 1961 and I saw Andy Lochhead and Willie Morgan both score in a 2-2 draw.

preston 1000x500There’s been just one friendly there since, if you don’t include pre-season Lancashire Cup games, and that was three years ago following our promotion to the Premier League and while they were still a League One club. Lukas Jutkiewicz gave us the lead that night but Preston came back to win 2-1, the winner coming in stoppage time from Josh Brownhill who is now with Bristol City.

Sean Dyche said at the time that he thought Preston would have a good season and so it proved. They finished in third place, behind champions Bristol City and promoted MK, and went on to beat Chesterfield and Swindon in the play-offs to return to the Championship after four years in League One.

Back up, the 2015/16 season didn’t start well at all with only one win in the first eleven games, but they eventually settled well under the management of Simon Grayson and ended in 11th place as they did again last season.

However, it’s all change at Deepdale this summer with Grayson, who had been there since February 2013, having gone to replace another former Preston manager David Moyes at Sunderland. North End turned to Alex Neil, previously with Hamilton and Norwich.

They’ve made four signings to date although all came before Neil’s appointment. Irish pair Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor have arrived from League of Ireland leaders Cork City, Josh Harrop has come in from Manchester United whilst they’ve also completed the signing of former Norwich goalkeeper Declan Rudd.

One week closer than us to competitive action when they kick off their Championship campaign with a home game against Sheffield Wednesday, they’ve had a busier pre-season than us so far. They have beaten all of Bamber Bridge, Stockport, Morecambe and Accrington and last Saturday the Deepdale doors opened for the first time for the visit of Newcastle. That game ended in a 1-1 draw with Tom Barkhuizen scoring Preston’s equaliser.

Neil is expected to give the Cork pair their first outings and Harrop is likely to feature after getting half an hour in the Newcastle game. It’s their last home friendly with just a trip to Fleetwood to follow on Friday night.

The photograph at the top is a reminder of the last time we played at Preston. The Bill Shankly Kop won’t quite look like that tonight as it did in April 2016 as we celebrated three points and a return to the top of the league with two games to go as we went on to take the title.

Joey Barton won’t be there either with any deflected free kicks but Sean Dyche will be taking all available members of his first team squad. Sam Vokes, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee are all doubts with Scott Arfield on his way back from the CONCACAF Gold Cup following Canada’s exit, but certainly the rest of the first team squad will be there.

It’s unlikely he will use all of them. We are now past the 45 minutes each period and I would expect him to perhaps utilise his squad over the next two games with Nottingham Forest to come on Saturday.

With very few Burnley fans taking in the game at Alfreton, the bulk of our travelling support on Saturday missed out on seeing any of the three newcomers. Charlie Taylor, Jonathan Walters and Jack Cork all played half of the game in Dublin and they all featured in the Alfreton game three days ago. Hopefully the travelling fans tonight will get the opportunity to see them in Burnley colours for the first time since their recent signings.

We will select from: Tom Heaton, Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Kevin Long, Tom Anderson, Stephen Ward, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Steven Defour, Fredrik Ulvestad, Aiden O’Neill, Jeff Hendrick, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Jon Walters, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes, Andre Gray, Chris Long, Dan Agyei.

As we reported yesterday, Burnley fans can gain admission on the night by purchasing a ticket from the ticket office outside the Bill Shankly Kop.

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