Pre­ston goalie’s sib­ling’s at Town

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE PREVIEW - By Luke Baker

NOTCH­ING a derby-day victory and keep­ing Pre­ston North End’s au­to­matic pro­mo­tion quest on track will pro­vide more than enough mo­ti­va­tion for Sam Johnstone.

But if the Pre­ston goal­keeper does need an­other rea­son to help his side beat Fleet­wood to­day, then get­ting one over on his younger brother should do the trick.

Johnstone’s 16-yearold sib­ling Max, also a goal­keeper, is on the Cod Army’s books as a first-year scholar, hav­ing joined the High­bury Sta­dium side last sum­mer.

Al­ready stand­ing at 6ft 5in, the younger Johnstone cer­tainly has the stature to be a suc­cess in the game and couldn’t ask for a bet­ter role model than his older brother.

The 22-year-old has kept seven clean sheets in 13 games since mov­ing on loan to Deep­dale from Manch­ester United as Pre­ston have en­trenched them­selves in the top two.

And as they look to ex­tend their lead over the chas­ing pack by beat­ing lo­cal ri­vals Fleet­wood, Johnstone ad­mits the squad are des­per­ate to seize the Lan­cashire brag­ging rights.

“All the lads are buzzing – we’ve been train­ing this week, the stan­dards are still high and the lads can’t wait to play,” said Johnstone.

“If you win the game and move a few more points clear of Swin­don, then the pres­sure is on them to catch us. “My lit­tle brother plays at Fleet­wood as well – he’s only young but he went there in the sum­mer so I will prob­a­bly see him around the ground.

“I saw him last Sun­day and we had a chat about the game. He is happy that I’m here and I’m happy that he is there get­ting a start in foot- ball. But hope­fully it will be me with a smile on my face af­ter­wards.”

Pre­ston will be with­out four play­ers due to in­ter­na­tional duty – reg­u­lars Cal­lum Robin­son and Bai­ley Wright play­ing for Eng­land U20s and Australia re­spec­tively, mean­ing Calum Woods and Andy Lit­tle could be given the nod by manager Simon Grayson.

Gi­bral­tar’s Scott Wiseman and Repub­lic of Ire­land U21 Alan Browne are also away with their coun­tries.

Fleet­wood haven’t es­caped un­scathed as Conor McLaugh­lin is with North­ern Ire­land while Nick Haughton, Danny An­drew and Jamille Matt are un­avail­able through in­jury.

The Cod Army still har­bour am­bi­tions of fin­ish­ing the sea­son in the League One play-off places and a derby victory over Pre­ston would go a long way to boost­ing those chances.

When the sides met at Deep­dale in Oc­to­ber, a sec­ond-half Joe Gar­ner hat- trick saw the Li­ly­whites battle back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

Fleet­wood goal­keeper Chris Maxwell said: “It’s one all the lads have been look­ing for­ward to, es­pe­cially since the game at Deep­dale.

“It was a crazy game but I think we’ve learned a lot from that – we haven’t taken get­ting into win­ning sit­u­a­tions for granted since then.

“We’re rel­ish­ing the op­por­tu­nity to beat them and, if we do, that could spark a re­ally good run-in.”

BRAG­GING RIGHTS: Pre­ston’s Sam Johnstone wants to get one over brother Max, inset

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