Kelly has a chance to shine

PRESTON North End caretaker manager Robert Kelly knows Colchester won't give him an easy ride at Deepdale today.

Stuart Watson

PRESTON North End caretaker manager Robert Kelly knows Colchester won't give him an easy ride at Deepdale today.

The former Leicester City boss was put in temporary charge of the Lilywhites on Wednesday after club chairman Derek Shaw's sacking of Alan Irvine.

Irvine - who saved the club from relegation in 2007/8 before leading them to the play-offs last season - was dismissed after a run of just one win from 10 league matches saw them drop to 16th in the Championship table.

And Kelly admits that it will be difficult to turn that run of poor form around against Aidy Boothroyd's red-hot League One side.

“They are battling away at the moment for automatic promotion so he (Boothroyd) has done a terrific job. I know Aidy, his team will be well organised, they will have a way of playing that asks you questions and which is difficult to combat, but we will make it about us. We are aware of their strengths and what they do, but really it is about what we do.

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“It's an important game, it's the magic of the FA Cup third round. I've always felt that the two dates you look for are the start of the season and the FA Cup third round and it still hasn't lost its magic.

“It's a competitive game, but they are all competitive. We are used to that two or three times a week so we will just get on with it.”

Reacting to Irvine's dismissal, U's boss Aidy Boothroyd said: “It's a strange one. You never quite know the ins and outs, but for somebody like Alan Irvine to go is a strange one.

“He got them to the play-offs last season and sometimes as a manager you can be too successful because people will always want more. Football management is not easy and I don't think we always get the respect we deserve.

“This is going to be a tough game for us because Preston are a Championship club, but Rob Kelly will know that we will give them a tough game because I saw one of their scouts here on Monday.”

Preston will be able to call up left-winger Ross Wallace again today following the conclusion of his suspension, while midfielder Paul Parry should shake off a minor knock.

Defender Sean St ledger, who was sent off the last time the U's faced Preston, has seen his move to Middlesbrough fall through and could therefore take part, while Barry Nicholson and Youl Mawene remain long-term absentees.

- For comprehensive live match updates from today's game, search for Stuart_Watson at

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