Meet the opposition | Preston North End
As Swansea City prepare to face Preston North End on Saturday (3pm), we take a closer look at the visitors.
What's their story?
As Swansea City prepare to face Preston North End this afternoon, we take a closer look at the visitors.
Preston have made steady progress since their promotion from League One at the end of the 2014-15 season, narrowly missing out on a Championship play-off place during the 2017-18 campaign.
The Lilywhites came close to Premier League promotion on three separate occasions in their last spell in the Championship, reaching a play-off final in 2005 before losing semi-finals in 2006 and 2009.
They are one of few sides who have twice lifted the FA Cup, once in 1889 and again in 1938 - the first FA Cup final to be broadcast on live television.
They were also the First Division champions during the maiden year of the Football League in 1888-89, and followed that up by retaining the title the following season.
The 1888-89 side is known as ‘The Invincibles’ having won the first-ever league and cup ‘Double’ without losing a game.
How’s their form?
It’s been a mixed start to the season for North End, following up an opening-day defeat at Millwall with an emphatic 3-0 win over Wigan.
That was just their second victory in 10 Championship fixtures, following on from a disappointing end to last season, which included the run of four defeats in a row that ended any lingering play-off hopes.
Yet, prior to that sequence of defeats, the Lilywhites had gone 12 games without a loss.
Who’s the boss?
Alex Neil. A former midfielder, Neil was appointed as Preston manager in July 2017 following the departure of Simon Grayson, who left to take over as manager of Sunderland.
Neil started his managerial career at Scottish side Hamilton Academical in 2013, having skippered them when former Swans assistant Billy Reid held the managerial reins.
He went on to be appointed as player-manager on an interim basis and led the club to promotion back to the Scottish Premier League in his first full season in charge.
Neil took charge of Norwich City in January 2015 and enjoyed a phenomenal first few months in charge, leading the Canaries to promotion to the top-flight with a play-off final victory over Middlesbrough.
However, their time in the top-flight lasted less than 12 months as they suffered relegation in the following season.
He left Carrow Road in March 2017 and joined Preston in July. Neil led North End to an excellent seventh-placed finish in his first season in charge, followed by 14th place the following campaign.
Who are the key men?
Preston picked up centre-back Patrick Bauer on a free transfer from Charlton over the summer, while prodigal son David Nugent returned to his old stomping ground.
Declan Rudd remains a reliable presence between the sticks, while academy product Ben Davies and former Newport County defender Andrew Hughes are proven Championship performers.
Jayden Stockley chipped in with four goals after joining from Exeter in January, while Brad Potts has established himself as a regular after his arrival from Barnsley the same month.
Republic of Ireland international Alan Browne is the heartbeat of the side; a box-to-box midfielder with the quality to weigh in with his share of goals, including 12 last term.