Wigan Athletic will hope to build on Tuesday’s massive victory away at Wolves in the Lancashire Derby at The DW Stadium on Saturday, as they entertain local rivals, Preston North End, in the Tics battle to avoid the drop.
Jake Buxton was the unlikely hero in Tuesday’s crunch game at Molineux, as he headed home just two minutes from time to give Wigan the much needed three points that took them above Blackburn Rovers in the table. A win against Preston on Saturday could see The Tics get out of the bottom three and climb as high as 20th place, above Burton Albion and Bristol City, the latter finding themselves now in a relegation battle following a poor run of form which has seen them go from Playoff contenders to Relegation candidates.
As for North End, Manager Simon Grayson will be hoping to get a win over local rivals Wigan in what will be his fourth year at the club, which has seen him get North End up into the second tier via the playoffs and stabilise The Whites in the Championship, with a potential Playoff surge, if results go their way in the final stretch of the season.
Preston overcame a Birmingham City outfit going through a poor run of form at Deepdale on Tuesday night, as goals from Callum Robinson and a tenth goal of the season for Jordan Hugill ensured North End won the game 2-1, against the 10 men of Birmingham. That win meant Preston’s playoff dream was still alive, as they currently lie in 10th, 7 points behind 6th placed Sheffield Wednesday, with 14 games still to play. A win for North End at the DW could see them climb as high as 7th in the Championship table, however, this is unlikely, as there would have to be an eight goal swing, due to Norwich’s goal difference.
The sides have only met four times at the DW Stadium, with Preston winning once, one draw and two wins for Wigan. The most notable game coming in the season Wigan Athletic went on to be promoted to the Premier League (2004/05), where The Latics thrashed North End 5-0, with a brace for Nathan Ellington followed by goals for Lee McCulloch, Alan Mahon and Jason Roberts. The most recent clash between the two sides at the DW was a League Cup tie, in 2010, when two late goals from Jordi Gomez and Charles N’Zogbia cancelled out Keith Treacy’s 23rd minute strike and ensured The Latics progressed to the next round.
The sides have already met once this season, in a televised clash at Deepdale, which North End won thanks to Jordan Hugill’s early goal.
Matt Gilks will continue in goal for The Tics after Jakob Haugaard learned the fate of his injury earlier this week. The concussion was first feared to keep the Stoke loanee out for at least a week (due to EFL/FA rules on concussions), however, it was much worse for the Danish stopper, as it was revealed that he will face at least several weeks out, following the elbow injury sustained in the defeat at Fulham a week ago. Warren Joyce also stated that Michael Jacobs is doubtful to start as he has ‘hamstring fatigue’, which meant he was substituted at half-time at Molineux on Tuesday night. This could pave the way for Deadline Day signing Gabriel Obertan to make his first start for Latics.
Simon Grayson is expected to have Paul Gallagher back pushing for a place in the 18 man squad, after he missed the last two games with a thigh injury, however, with North End winning their last two games, Gallagher is expected to be named as a substitute, rather than starting the Lancashire Derby. Defender Marnick Vermijl isn’t expected to be available for The Whites visit to the DW, as he recovers from a hernia.
Wigan (Expected): Gilks; Connolly, Buxton, Burn, Warnock; Power, MacDonald, Morsy, Obertan; Grigg, Bogle.
Preston (Expected): Maxwell; Browning, Clarke, Huntington, Cunningham; Horgan, Browne, Pearson, McGeady; Robinson, Hugill.