Both Rovers and Preston will be eyeing tomorrow’s derby as an opportunity to get themselves back in the play-off picture, according to Tony Mowbray.

Having both exited the FA Cup last week, the two sides are each now five games without a win and slipped to 13th and 10th in the table.

Rovers will look to move level on points with Alex Neil’s side, but North End will be buoyed by being unbeaten in their last six meetings with their neighbours that have brought five wins.

A disappointing festive period has dulled the optimism that was building around Ewood Park at the end of 2019, but Mowbray hopes a win over Preston will go some way to rebuilding that among the fanbase.

He said: “We’ve had good spells and dodgy spells throughout the season, I think we’re both in a difficult spell at the moment and both looking to come out of it.

“What we know is that three points on Saturday and you’re right back in the mix, threatening the play-off spots once again.

“They’ve been higher than us for most of the season, they will be frustrated to have dropped out of the play-off spots, but are only two points outside.

“They’ll see an opportunity to get back in the play-off situation, we see an opportunity to pull level on points with them and be right in the mix, two points off the play-offs and 19 games to go.

“That’s an okay position. You all want to be first or second in the league but you have to trust your team moving forward.

“That’s why everyone is trying to improve their team, I also believe in these players and believe they can get the job done.

“We’re trying to get them some help in the transfer window. If we can get some players in then great, but if not, they’ve already shown they can compete and beat some of the best teams in the league.”

Rovers led 2-0 in the game at Deepdale, only for North End to come back with three unanswered second half goals to take a third successive derby win.

They won the March meeting at Ewood, with Rovers' last win in this fixture coming back in November 2015.

“We started pretty well, as we do in most games, but didn’t deal with their physicality at the end of the day,” the Rovers boss added of the October meeting.

“I don’t think it was anything tactical, they just sent on a big 6’4 centre forward, went back to front, got second balls, and they have some talented footballers at the top end of the pitch.

“That’s always been the case and they made us pay on the day. It was a frustrating day for us and for the supporters who made that trip.

“We have an opportunity on Saturday to get a positive result against them.”