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Question Time: Preston North End with @OllyDawes

A scary game is coming

Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's the big one tomorrow. On the day of Halloween we have a potential horror show on hands, as Bolton Wanderers travel to local neighbours Preston North End, in an already vitally important relegation scrap for both sides.

To get the lowdown on the opponents, I talked to the brilliant Olly Dawes:

1) Which one of us is going down first?

If you'd asked me two weeks ago, I'd have said us. Results against Charlton Athletic and Brighton away have given me hope though, so I'll go with Bolton.

2) Why have you not been able to carry on the momentum from the end of last season into this one?

The summer recruitment was pretty poor, plus when you have players like Paul Gallagher and Jermaine Beckford out injured, it's always going to be hard to make the step up.

3) Do you think Simon Grayson will last the season?

Again, a fortnight ago I'd have said no. I'm still not completely convinced that he's a Championship-level manager, but if we can build on the last two results he should be fine, and the board appear to be keen on him anyway.

4) How come you had such trouble with bringing players in during the summer?

Too much dallying. We should have had Sam Johnstone and Tendayi Darikwa in, but ended up with neither. We seemingly weren't willing to spend any money on new signings until bringing in Stevie May, and the whole recruitment strategy was just doomed from the start.

5) How are the signings you did make fairing so far? I hear every Preston fan loves Vermijl...

Marnick is not a good right back! There are some bright spots. Jordan Pickford has been outstanding since joining on loan from Sunderland, and Greg Cunningham has been great at left back. Stevie May and Eoin Doyle have had slow starts to life here, Chris Kirkland is just cover in goal and Will Keane isn't clinical enough up front. It's forced us in to the loan market early for Paddy McCarthy and Adam Reach, so we must do better in January.

6) More specifically, how's are our old mate Jermaine doing? Spot of injury bother I hear?

Yeah, Jermaine is out possibly until around New Year. He suffered an injury in pre-season, came back for about ten minutes and was then ruled out for months after surgery. It's been a devastating blow, as nobody in our attack can replicate Beckford's movement off the shoulder of the last man.

7) What was the deal with Kevin Davies' disappearing contract offer over the summer?

I'm honestly not too sure. I never thought he was worth a new deal in the Championship having been pretty poor in League One, and maybe Preston realised that halfway through the summer and chose not to re-sign him. It was certainly a strange situation.

8) I imagine you love Joe Garner much more than I do (and I really do), so here's your opportunity to tell me why he's so ace.

Scoring nearly 50 goals in two season is always a good way to get fans to like you. But with Garner it goes further than that; he's a boyhood Preston fan, living out the dream of all our supporters by playing for North End on a weekly basis and scoring a ton of goals. His passion for the club is unquestionable and that shows in his performances.

9) Any other Preston players that are half decent who I may never have heard of?

The aforementioned Pickford and Cunningham have been impressive this season. Daniel Johnson is the most talented player in the squad and has a Premier League career ahead of him, whilst Alan Browne has been superb in recent weeks in midfield, and Paul Gallagher is the creative spark that we've missed during his absence.

10) How will Preston try and play on Saturday?

We'll set up solid, hard to beat and rely on Johnson and Gallagher for creativity. We're not a very attacking, expansive team but we'll pose a threat from set pieces. With either Garner or Jordan Hugill likely to play, we'll probably play quite a direct style, as Grayson generally likes to do.

11) Any Bolton players you're concerned about going into the game?

Having scored last weekend, I guess Shola Ameobi could cause us some problems. I've rated Darren Pratley and Neil Danns for a while but not sure how important they are for Bolton! Zach Clough being out is good though, as he looks to be a very promising young player.

12) Finally, how do you see the game going and what's your score prediction?

I think it will be a cagey game between two teams who aren't very good. I can see a 1-1 draw, I really don't think it will be a high scoring affair and with no home wins in the league this season, I have doubts over our ability to win the game at Deepdale.

I thank Olly for his time and you can follow him on Twitter @OllyDawes.