Blackburn vs Preston predictions: North End to land derby honours
- The weekend Championship action kicks off with a Friday night Lancashire derby
- Blackburn would go above Preston into sixth with a win; North End could go fourth
- Recommended bet: Preston to win
Local bragging rights and precious league points are on the line when Blackburn and Preston square up in a much-anticipated clash at the top end of the Championship.
Rovers have won four of their last five to inch towards the play-off places where Preston are firmly established despite a recent rocky patch.
Rovers' boss Jon Dahl Tomasson has got defensive problems after right-back Joe Rankin-Costello was injured in the 3-1 win at Norwich.
Centre-backs Dom Hyam and Hayden Carter are out but at least Scott Wharton's red card at Carrow Road has been rescinded. Lewis Travis could replace Rankin-Costello as a makeshift full-back. Ryan Hedges and Sam Gallagher are still missing for Blackburn.
Preston have got fewer players crocked with defender Andrew Hughes set to return to Ryan Lowe's squad after a six-week absence.
Blackburn have not had a draw in any of their last 16 matches in all competitions, and they've not had a draw at Ewood Park since the end of last season.
With nine goals and two assists, Rovers' Sammie Szmodics has the joint-most goal involvements in the second division.
Preston have not led at half time in any of their last 12 Championship away games. They average just 9.2 shots per game in the league – only Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham average less.
Only Southampton have picked up more cards (41 yellows, 1 red) than Preston (39 yellows) in Championship action this term.
Blackburn have won only one of their last seven Championship encounters with Preston at Ewood Park.
Early-season pacesetters Preston have emerged from a rocky run with a timely 3-2 win over Coventry, and can use that as the springboard to derby success at Blackburn.
Ryan Lowe's men had got off to a flier with 19 points from their first seven matches before going on a seven-match winless run.
But they hadn't become a bad side during that period – their four losses were at Leicester, Ipswich and Hull and at home to West Brom, all top-nine outfits.
It was a tricky period – which included a 2-2 draw with Southampton – and the win over Coventry could be a real turning point. That they are still in the play-off places says much about the excellence of their start.
They should fancy this trip to Ewood Park where recent history says they always do well and given Blackburn's inconsistencies – almost a trademark under Jon Dahl Tomasson – North End are a really attractive price.
Blackburn have won seven, lost seven – Huddersfield in 21st have lost fewer games – which shows a win-or-bust mentality which makes them attractive at long odds and a lay at short prices.
And with a defensive crisis hindering Tomasson's preparations, the Lilywhites look well worth backing.
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