Dave Seddon of the Lancashire Evening Post previews Bolton's game against the Lilywhites at Macron Stadium this weekend
Ahead of Saturday's local derby meeting with Preston at Macron Stadium, Dave Seddon of the Lancashire Evening Post offers his thoughts on Wanderers' latest opponents from Deepdale.
bwfc.co.uk: After finally shaking off their play-off hoodoo last May, what were the club and its fans expecting ahead of this season?
DS: The aim was survival first and foremost but with an eye on pushing up towards mid-table. They are currently in 10th place, still in with a shout of the play-offs, so perhaps they are higher than expected at this stage.
bwfc.co.uk: With a play-off position certainly not an impossibility this season, what would you say has been the reason behind North End’s success on the pitch?
DS: For a newly-promoted side, they have been very solid defensively, with 15 clean sheets in the league. They have used a 3-5-2 to good effect in a lot of games, so are solid at the back and counter-attack quite well. In terms of kicking-on next season, they need a sharper edge going forward.
bwfc.co.uk: What would be, in your mind, the minimum requirement for Preston come May?
DS: I would like to think that they can finish upper mid-table minimum. With 10 games left, the play-offs cannot be ruled out but at the moment they are viewed as outsiders for the top six.
bwfc.co.uk: Simon Grayson has certainly proven his worth since walking through the door at Deepdale just over three years ago. What is the consensus on the manager?
DS: Grayson is highly thought of by PNE fans and there has been progress every season of his tenure. He steered them away from the threat of relegation when he took over, then in his first full season, North End reached the play-off semi-finals. Last season, they went up at Wembley and this campaign, they have settled into the Championship better than most people thought they would.
bwfc.co.uk: Ahead of this afternoon’s encounter, who should Wanderers be keeping an eye on?
DS: Adam Reach, who is on loan from Middlesbrough, offers a threat going forward. Signed as a winger, he's been playing in a No.10 role behind the striker for the last month or so.
bwfc.co.uk: And finally, following a goalless draw at Deepdale back in October, what are your predictions for today?
DS: Having never won the Pools or the lottery, my tipping isn't the best! But I'll go for a 1-0 Preston win.