If the near 5,000 contingent of Wolves supporters heading to Deepdale is anything to go by, optimism has returned.
I think Kenny Jackett deserves a lot of credit for that.
He’s done everything within his power to cultivate a strong relationship between himself, the team and the fans.
There’s now a genuine sense, for the first time in a long time, that we’re all in it together. That’s a very good place to start from.
Still, quite how much can realistically be expected from his young side is another matter completely.
For all the positives to come out of pre-season, nobody can say with any degree of certainty what this team is capable of doing until the competitive action starts.
I remain optimistic about our prospects, but cautious at the same time given that we’ve only added one player (a free transfer) to the squad.
The last time we visited Deepdale, Chris Iwelumo scored a superb hat-trick in a 3-1 win before getting himself sent off for a headbutt. Wolves went up to the Premier League as champions that year and Preston made the play-offs.
The Lilywhites finished midtable last season with Simon Grayson taking charge late in the day. Given his past success with Leeds and Huddersfield, you would think he’d be a good appointment at this level.
A quick look at this thread on a Preston fans forum suggests they feel promotion is a realistic objective. If that’s the case this should be a good barometer to see how our young side are shaping up.
Kevin Davies has been their marquee summer signing and, as he always does, will be causing lots of problems on Saturday. I’m not seeing many other names I’m familiar with in their squad. That could be a good or bad thing.
They won 8, drew 9 and lost 6 at Deepdale last season, which is a solid enough record. However, they’ll need to do better this time if they’re too mount a serious promotion charge.
It’s likely that only 2 players (Elokobi and Sako) who started the game at Brighton back in May will be in the team on Saturday. That’s a good thing. Based on last weekend’s defeat to Real Betis, I would think the team will shape up like this:
That eleven shouldn’t be short of goals. I’m particularly excited to see if Leigh Griffiths can continue scoring regularly and if Sigurdarson can find consistency.
The defence continues to leak goals, but I look at that back four and believe it’s perfectly adequate for League One. I think Wolves’ defensive problems stem from how they defend as a team, not just as a back line.
I think if you take Sako out of the side we’re definitely short in the creative stakes. At some point we’re going to need at least one of Ismail, Forde or Boukari to make an impact.
Midfield is the area of concern for me so I’m hoping David Davis really finds his feet this season, Lee Evans lives up to the hype and Dave Edwards remains fit long enough to deliver.
Preston are slight favourites for this fixture with odds of 8/5 on the home win.
A repeat of the 3-1 victory Wolves secured on their last visit to Deepdale, is available at odds of 20/1.
The Wolves Blog Prediction League is once again open for business and as always, anyone can join in.
Simply leave your predicted scoreline for the game as a comment below and I’ll collate the results. Easy.
It’s 1 point for getting the correct outcome (e.g. a Wolves victory, a draw or a loss) and 2 points if you also get the scoreline correct.
As we’ve won one and lost one of our last two opening day fixtures, I’ll go for a draw.
Up The Wolves.