All eyes will be on our central defensive partnership tonight. It might be Huddlestone and Corluka, but the man we really want to see is Michael Dawson. With Woodgate out indefinitely and King’s hamstring problem likely to keep him away from the first team sheet for a while, Dawson is about as close to an experienced central defender as we have got.

If fit, Dawson will line up alongside Corluka with Hutton at right back. Having missed much of pre-season, it would be useful for Dawson to at least get some football tonight, to sharpen him up before the Burnley game on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Gomes will start in goal and I hope he will stay there. Cudicini just doesn’t convince me. Not that Gomes convinces me either, but I’d still put him in ahead of the Italian.

Bentley and Dos Santos are likely to start, with Lennon being rested and Kranjcar cup-tied. Pavlyuchenko is out, so it will be Crouch alongside either Keane or Defoe. All of those who think that Robbie has a clause written into his contract prohibiting him from being dropped will be very interested in tonight’s lineup.

All in all, it looks like we’re going to put out a very strong side. We probably need to against a Preston side that have won their last five home games and are sitting pretty in fourth place in the Championship.

It won’t be easy, especially considering the injury problems we have in defence and the changes that this will force us to make. We should still be too strong though. I’m going for a 2-1 victory. A win will restore some confidence back into the team after two disappointing results and hopefully inspire us for teh game on Saturday.



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