Tony Mowbray is an admirer of Preston North End and believes closing the gap between the two to one point would suggest Rovers are on the right track.

Rovers are without a win in six matches, while Preston are unbeaten since New Year’s Day and have moved five places and four points above Mowbray’s side.

In the 17 games since their November meeting at Deepdale, which Preston won 4-1, North End have collected 27 points compared to Rovers’ 18.

Alex Neil’s side are chasing a fifth consecutive Championship away win and Mowbray has been impressed with their progress, even after a slow start.

The Rovers boss said: “I think they have got their recruitment right in recent years. They buy lots of players and they don’t necessarily play them all, they wait for them, and then they pop up and do pretty well.

“They buy from the lower leagues and make them better players for their team.

“I like their model, I like watching Preston. They have an intense manager, they are a few years in front in this division if we’re using the starting point of us coming up from League One, they have had a few more years at it.

“They have threatened the play-offs a few times, whether this is their year, who knows?

“For a long time we’ve been ahead of them this season, they’re coming strong, we’ve had a dip. Let’s see how the season finishes.

“If we beat them then we will be a point behind them which will be a reflection, on how good they’ve been recently, they haven’t lost since New Year, but if we can only be a point behind them it would suggest we’ve been doing alright.”

Rovers haven’t scored a first half goal in five matches, and were undone by a fast Preston start in their previous meeting. They were 2-0 down inside 10 minutes and although Danny Graham cut the deficit, they were well beaten.

“I think we had a decent go, got back to 2-1 and felt we were back in the game and on top for spells,” added Mowbray.

“We got done by a stereotypical goal of our team really, giving ourselves a fighting chance and then shooting ourselves in the foot.

“I think we take this game on knowing it’s one we can undoubtedly win but knowing their talent, their threat. They have won four on the bounce away from home, they’re playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of energy.

“I think we’re a team that can match teams physically in the intensity of a football match.

“It’s a game we’re looking forward to, there will be a big crowd and it’s a chance for us to get back to what we’re good at.

“I’m sure we’ll ask lots of questions of them and hopefully it’s a good game and we come out on top.”