Preston v Middlesbrough predictions: Be Keane on PNE marksman to deliver
Championship play-off chasers Preston and Middlesbrough meet at Deepdale where Steve Davies reckons an in-form home striker can find the net.
Two wins in a row have seen Preston leapfrog Middlesbrough and move to within sniffing distance of the top six in an increasingly congested battle to make the play-offs.
Boro’ are very much still in the mix but have gone flat, picking up just two points from a possible nine, maybe a hangover from their run to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup.
That suggests it’s going to be a keenly-fought affair at Deepdale though it’s Michael Carrick’s men who are favourites at 23/20 to head home with the spoils.
Midfielders Brad Potts and Alan Browne limped out of the 2-0 win at Cardiff and will be assessed. Ryan Ledson and Ali McCann are on standby to replace them in Ryan Lowe’s new-look 3-4-1-2 set-up.
Michael Carrick’s midfield didn’t work out in Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Bristol City with the Boro chief under pressure to restore Hayden Hackney and Dan Barlaser at the base of midfield.
They still look light up front without Isaiah Jones and with Josh Coburn and Emmanuel Latte Lath struggling so Carrick may have to decide whether to stick with Sam Greenwood or bring Marcus Forss in off the flank.
North End have won three of their last four home matches, including triumphs over Leeds and Ipswich.
Preston have scored seven goals in their last four matches, all of them in the first half of those games.
Only Rotherham (7.5) average fewer shots per game than Preston (9.3).
Middlesbrough have scored in all but one of their last 18 away games across all competitions, the odd one out - surprisingly - a 1-0 loss at bottom club Rotherham.
Only four teams in the Championship are creating more chances than Middlesbrough this season yet it’s their failure to take enough of them that makes them difficult to support at a shortish price.
It isn’t as though Preston away is an easy prospect anyway - indeed North End are four points better off than the Teessiders and have beaten them on each of their last three visits to Deepdale.
And Preston are strong at home where they have won eight times, including against the likes of top-six outfits Ipswich and Leeds.
Lowe appears to have happened upon a formation - 3-4-1-2 - which is bringing out the best in his attacking trident of Mads Frokjaer, a fit-again Emil Riis and top scorer Will Keane.
Keane has scored five in his last five, has 11 in total in the league and definitely merits an interest in the player scorer market.