'Insider' Rhodes to aid Preston

PRESTON boss Alan Irvine will make use of the inside information handed to him by former Blues goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes in today's vital 'six-pointer'.

Derek Davis

'Insider' Andy to help the Lilywhites

By Derek Davis

PRESTON boss Alan Irvine will make use of the inside information handed to him by former Blues goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes in today's vital 'six-pointer'.

Rhodes is now at Deepdale and on top of the usual scouting report Irvine has gleaned extra tips from the man released by Town last summer.

Irvine said: “Andy knows the players inside out, he knows how Ipswich work, although we have done our usual homework as well.

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“Andy and I were at their home game against Nottingham Forest last week and we were able to watch them on our coach coming back from Southampton so we are aware of Ipswich's players.

“Andy just gives us that little extra insight.”

Irvine has warned his home boys against complacency when they take on the Blues this afternoon.

After a shocking 3-1 loss at relegation threatened Southampton last week, the Lilywhites are looking to go six points clear of play-off rivals Town at Deepdale today.

With only four places and three points separating the two clubs, Irvine is also looking for his side to complete the double over Town after beating them on the opening day of the season, one of just three successes on the road.

He said: "It was a great result that day but it isn't relevant now.

"Ipswich have an excellent away record, they are playing very well at the moment and they will be coming here feeling confident.

“It is one of 12 games we have left, and they are 12 massive games for us.

"They are also 12 hard games. When you look through the list you can't see a cast-iron certainty in there.

"There is a surprise in our division every week. We were probably it last weekend and there will be others.

"If we win this one it doesn't mean we are going to finish in a play-off position. And if we lose it then it doesn't mean we are not going to make the top six.”

The strange case of Preston's Jekyll and Hyde season has meant results at Deepdale are chiefly responsible for keeping a play-off place but travel-happy Ipswich could test a successful home run dating back four months.

Preston have not lost at home in nine league matches - seven victories and two draws dating back to the start of November.

In all, they have managed 12 wins from 17 games, the second best in the division behind Reading.

But if there is any danger of complacency creeping in on the back of that record, Irvine will remind his players that Ipswich are currently the fourth-best away team in the division.

He said: "Our home form has been excellent and I am hoping that will continue.

"If we can keep that up between now and the end of the season, coupled with some good results on the road, I'm sure we will be in a very good position come the end of the season."

Goals have been hard for the Lilywhites to come by of late but they have Neil Mellor back from a double hernia operation, although he is likely to start on the bench.

Defender Callum Davidson is also available along with on-loan defender Andrew Davies.

Chris Sedgwick is out following a hernia operation and Barry Nicholson is a doubt, while forward Karl Hawley is struggling with a back problem.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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