Tommy has Preston in sights
TOMMY Miller loves scoring goals - especially against Preston.The Blues midfielder has been a bit shy in front of goal of late - he has not netted in the league since the 5-1 home win over Sheffield United nearly 15 weeks ago.
By Derek Davis
TOMMY Miller loves scoring goals - especially against Preston.
The Blues midfielder has been a bit shy in front of goal of late - he has not netted in the league since the 5-1 home win over Sheffield United nearly 15 weeks ago.
But Miller has a feeling his drought is about to end and, when one comes, a cluster will follow.
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Mind you, he thought that when he plonked one in towards the end of the FA Cup defeat by Bolton last month.
Miller said: “I'm desperate to score. The FA Cup pulled me out of a rut but I need to get one in the league to get me going again.
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“I almost scored against Leicester. I should have done, really. Nine times out of 10 they go in for me, so I was quite upset but, as long as the team keep winning, that is the main thing.”
Miller is on seven goals for the season and aims to beat the 12 he has scored in each of the previous two campaigns - and he was also prolific at Hartlepool from midfield.
He admitted: “It has been niggling away at the back of my mind to score, because I'm known for scoring and have done throughout my career.”
Preston would be a great time to start and he has a good history against the Lilywhites, netting in his past two games for Town against them and in both the matches he played for Hartlepool, which ended North End's Auto Windscreens Shield hopes of reaching the final.
Miller banged one in during the 2-0 home victory over Preston a year ago, and was on target again at Portman Road in the 3-0 win last October.
But it was with the Monkey-Hangers (Hartlepool) that he really hurt North End.
Miller scored both goals, including a 90th-minute equaliser, to take the game to extra-time and penalties.
Miller recalls: “We drew 2-2 after 90 minutes and I had scored both. It went to penalties, Peter Beardsley missed and I scored the winning penalty.
“It was quite a scalp for us at the time, as we were then in the old Third Division.”
He knows it won't be easy though, against a team unbeaten in nine Championship matches and solid at home.
He said: “When we beat them 3-0 the scoreline didn't reflect the game really, because they played very well.
“They are a good team and their manager has done very well.
“Their confidence is high and not many teams beat Preston at Preston.”
The Blues will have old-boy James Scowcroft back playing his first game in a Town shirt since May, 2001.
His inclusion has been welcomed and Miller is confident they can work together well.
He said: “Scowie is a great target man, good in the air and likes it to feet.
“He is someone who could bring the midfielders into the game. He is a different type of player to Shefki (Kuqi) really, and the big man has been brilliant for us, but we are going to have to do without him.”
Miller has been used mainly wide right for Town but, with teams usually looking to stifle Town, he and Jim Magilton have adapted.
Miller said: “We have changed it around at times during the game. A lot of teams have played five in midfield against us to make it hard, so Jim and I swap around to try and get on the ball and start things off.”
The Blues can go eight points clear at the top of the table tonight, albeit just for 19 hours, and Miller insists they are in no mood to let things slide.
He said: “We have been top now for quite a while and we want to stay there. The main objective is promotion and, if it is in second place, then it is in second, but we have to stay focused.
“We are in a good position but there is a long way to go and anything can happen yet.”
Kevin Horlock and Dean Bowditch have travelled with the squad and are both expected to start on the bench.
Horlock, who has recovered from a shoulder injury, could push his way back into the starting side but most probably not until next Tuesday against Watford at home.