The Shrimps host Sky Bet Championship side Preston North End at the Mazuma Stadium in Round Two of the Carabao Cup.
Stephen Robinson’s side overcame fellow Lancashire side Blackburn Rovers in Round One, thanks to goals from Cole Stockton and Burnley-loanee Adam Phillips.
Frankie McAvoy’s side triumphed over Mansfield Town in the last round by three goals to nil, with goals coming from Emil Riis Jakobsen and a Scott Sinclair brace.
The two sides have crossed paths only five times before, with the Shrimps winning one and losing four. Three of the meetings came in the League Cup with the other two meetings in the Johnstones Paint Trophy.
The visitors haven’t enjoyed a great start to the 2021/22 campaign, with their only league win coming at the weekend against Championship newcomers Peterborough United. Before Saturday, the Lilywhites lost three league games on the bounce.
In 2020/21, the East Lancashire side finished 13th in the Sky Bet Championship on 61 points, without any real chance of reaching the play-offs or danger of relegation.
McAvoy took charge of North End on an interim basis March 2021 after former manager Alex Neil was relieved of his duties. Since winning five of his last eight games of the 2020/21 season, the former first-team coach was given the job full time at the end of the season.
Frankie McAvoy’s pre-match thoughts
Speaking ahead of the clash, North End boss McAvoy said irrespective of the team he fields, his side will be going all out to progress into Round Three.
“We will try and put out the strongest team we can field to go and win the game, though we have to be mindful of the players we have missing and the likes of Pat who is coming back from a long-term injury and any others who picked up little knocks at the weekend,” he said.
“They are very well organised, they have a good manager and he has his team well structured and difficult to beat.
“They managed to beat Blackburn in the last round and they are at home this time, but we will obviously be going there to win the game.”
McAvoy also confirmed that he will be without three key players due to isolation.
“There’s nothing new to report at the moment but we’ve still got Liam Lindsay, Ched Evans and Alan Browne isolating so they won’t be involved,” he added.
North End’s key players
Midfielder Ryan Ledson enjoyed a strong campaign last year and was duly rewarded with the illustrious fans’ Player of the Year award as well as the Players’ Player of the Year award. The 24-year-old made 38 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals and providing five assists from midfield. In addition, the former Everton youth player has picked up the captain’s armband when required, proving himself as a leader on and off the pitch.
Experienced winger Scott Sinclair lead the goalscoring tally for North End last season, netting nine times in 40 appearances, as well as providing five assists. The 32-year-old signed for the club in January 2020 after spending four years north of the border with Celtic and quickly became a fans favourite.
Goalkeeper Declan Rudd made a total of 23 appearances last campaign, keeping seven clean sheets in the process. The 30-year-old, who has represented England at U16, U17, U19, U20 and U21 level as well as making 14 Premier League appearances, spent two spells on-loan at North End before signing permanently in 2017. In that time, the 6ft 3 shot stopper has made a total of 193 appearances for the club, keeping a total of 57 clean sheets.
Shrimps’ pre-match thoughts
Morecambe boss Stephen Robinson enjoyed a spell at Preston North End as a player, playing over 25 times for the Lilywhites and the 46-year-old is hoping his side can cause an upset against his former club, despite the East Lancashire side being favourites.
“We want to win the game first and foremost,” Robinson said.
“We’re going up against high level opposition, Preston should beat us and should beat us comfortably but that’s not always the way football works.
“We hope we’ll make it a very difficult evening for them, but this is a game we’ve got nothing to lose and it’s a game where, yes I’ll make a couple of changes, but not wholesale.
“It’s a game we’ve nothing to lose as I say, all the expectation is on Preston.
“With their budget and their fanbase and their level of player, then they’re expected to win, but hopefully we’ll make that very, very difficult.”
Meet the men in black
Derbyshire-based James Oldham will take charge of the game, with Paul Newhouse and Paul Graham running the lines and Gary Hilton taking the position of fourth official.
Oldham has refereed four games so far this campaign and has issued a total of 23 yellow cards.
Last season, Oldham refereed a total of 29 games across Sky Bet League One, League Two, the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and the Papa John’s Trophy. In those matches, he distributed a total of 83 yellow cards and four red cards.
He took charge of the Shrimps just once last season, in our 2-2 draw away at Stevenage on 6 February 2021.
Don’t miss a kick with our iFollow coverage
After teaming up with Beyond Radio for the 2021/22 season, supporters will be able to listen to exclusive, full and uninterrupted radio commentary of every single game, home and away, which will be broadcast simultaneously across North Lancashire on 103.5 and 107.5FM, as well as on the iFollow Shrimps platform.
Joining host Dave Salmon is the club’s media assistant Matt Smith and summer signing Jon Obika, audio passes are available from as little as £2.50 per match, £4.49 for a monthly pass or £45 for a season pass.
As well as full match commentary, the ‘Shrimps Verdict’ podcast will be available post-match, featuring online, on demand content, including audio match highlights, post-match interviews and reaction, and the chance for supporters to have their say.