Preston started the season with a 1-1 away at Bristol City. What were the key things you took from your opening game?
Oliver Dawes: We didn’t look too threatening in the first half but seemed to play higher up the pitch in the second half and looked so much more dangerous. Fans have been wanting to see that kind of intent for a while, and I hope it continues.
In terms of aspirations for the season, is it a similar situation to last season where you’re expecting the club to challenge for the playoffs?
OD: Challenging for the playoffs seems a little too far for us this season, especially with no Tom Cannon back at the time of writing.
It may be a little pessimistic but if you offered me safety right now, I’d take it!
If Preston are to reach that next step and achieve the playoffs, what will Ryan Lowe have to change?
OD: It’s obviously difficult because of the budget. Realistically PNE aren’t expected to get into the top six but the achievements of Coventry City and Luton Town have changed the game a little.
One issue is being wedded to a 3-5-2/3-4-2-1 system when we continue to have real problems signing natural wingbacks more than 18 months into his reign.
Moving on to transfers, one player that everyone is talking about is Tom Cannon, who had a fantastic loan spell with Preston last season. Are you expecting him to return?
OD: I’m almost sick of hearing his name at the moment!
The rumour mill has been churning for weeks now with PNE fans convinced he’s coming back tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.
If Everton do loan him out then I’d expect us to sign him, but the fear of somebody swooping in with a permanent bid is strong.
In terms of incomings so far, how would you summarise your business?
OD: It’s been solid if unspectacular.
Three experienced performers have arrived in Jack Whatmough, Duane Holmes and Will Keane, which is decent enough, while we dipped into the European market with a deal for talented playmaker Mads Frøkjær-Jensen.
We’re not expecting to see too much from Layton Stewart this season and Calvin Ramsay is injured, so while there have been some good signings, we’re still lacking for me.
Heading the other way, Daniel Johnson rejected a new deal to join Alex Neil’s Stoke side. Has he been adequately replaced?
OD: Frøkjær-Jensen has arrived to take Johnson’s role as chief midfield creator and he has looked very good so far, but there will naturally be ups and downs to come as he adjusts to English football.
Johnson was such a key player for over eight years, we were always going to miss him, but the early signs from Frøkjær-Jensen are encouraging.
Where do you think the club will be looking to strengthen before the deadline day?
OD: We have to sign a left wing back and another striker at the absolute minimum but those pursuits have been really dragging on.
I’d personally like another left-sided centre back but that’s maybe being a touch greedy.
In terms of tactics, what can we expect from Lowe’s side?
OD: I’d expect to see North End line up in a 3-4-2-1 setup this weekend with Frøkjær-Jensen and Alan Browne supporting Will Keane up top.
I can’t see many changes from the team which drew with Bristol City last weekend but Duane Holmes impressed against Salford City in midweek.
Which eleven players do you think he will select?
OD: I’d go with the same as last weekend; Freddie Woodman in goal behind a back three of Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay and Andrew Hughes. Brad Potts and youngster Kian Best would be the wing backs with Ryan Ledson and Ali McCann in the middle. As mentioned earlier, Frøkjær-Jensen and Browne would by supporting Keane up top.
Preston failed to score a goal against Sunderland last season. What is your prediction for the final score this time around?
OD: Sunderland were just too quick and talented in that game and this feels like a real test of whether PNE have improved over the summer or not.
At least there’s no Amad Diallo this time! A home win would be lovely but we’ll go with a 1-1 draw for this one.