Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna is expecting a difficult challenge at Deepdale tomorrow despite the fact that Preston North End have struggled to maintain their form.

Ryan Lowe’s side started the season incredibly well, going unbeaten until the end of September. Their performances and results quickly deteriorated, however, and they ended up dropping out of promotion race.

That being said, they currently sit 12th in the table, just five points outside of the top six, but they also head into tomorrow’s clash having suffered six defeats in their last nine games.

“I think that’s the level of the division, to be honest,” McKenna said.

“Ryan is doing a good job and they’re having a good, solid season. They started really well and it was always going to be really hard for any team to maintain the position that they were in.

“Of course, that’s why you’d think why we’ve had - and deservedly so - a lot of credit for maintaining our form to this point.

“It’s such a competitive division. Every game is difficult, and as I see them, they’ve still got the ingredients. They did well at the start of the season and they’re still a hard-working, aggressive team who impose their physicality well and are aggressive with and without the ball.

“At home, they’re a really difficult proposition as well. We know we’re going to be in for a tough game.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Chaplin opened the scoring from a free-kick when the two teams last met in OctoberChaplin opened the scoring from a free-kick when the two teams last met in October (Image: Ross Halls)

Conor Chaplin has good memories of facing Preston, scoring against them in pre-season and in the league game at Portman Road, which Town won 4-2 back in October.

“It was a good day at Portman Road, he recalled. “But it’s a completely different test going to Preston this weekend. Going to Deepdale is going to be a tough game.

“They started the season really, really well. Similar to ourselves, they probably exceeded expectations in the way they started the season. It’s been tough for them in terms of keeping it up but they’ve been a great Championship club for a number of years, there’s no secret about that.

“I don’t know how many consecutive seasons they’ve been in the league, but they’re a really solid Championship outfit. They’ve got really good players, really dangerous players, and they defend as a solid unit with players who’ve played in the Championship and have a lot of experience as well.”