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Preston play host to Middlesbrough upon Championship return

New boys Preston welcome Middlesbrough to Deepdale in the Championship, and are 11/5 with Coral to triumph against last season’s beaten play-off finalists.

Boro have won their last two matches against Preston 3-1, both of them Capital One Cup fixtures, and are 20/1 to victor by this scoreline again.

The only surviving player in either team who scored on those two occasions, is Preston’s Jordan Hugill, and the 23-year-old forward is 7/2 to net again in the anytime market.

For the visitors, Kike, who scored two goals in his side’s last five matches, is 11/2 to open the scoring and having not been able to retain Patrick Bamford on loan from Chelsea or Jelle Vossen from Genk, he is likely to spearhead the Teesside team’s attack.

Meanwhile Uruguayan striker Christian Stuani could prove to be a canny capture in the summer and he is 6/1 to break the deadlock, with loan signing from Watford Diego Fabbrini 11/4 in the anytime market.

The hosts will be hoping deadly duo Jermaine Beckford (the subject of an 11/2 matchday special wincast) and Joe Garner (11/2 to strike first) can continue their fine goalscoring form in front of a home crowd.

Preston manager Simon Grayson admits that the match won’t be easy. “There’s a lot of pressure on Middlesbrough this year to get promotion to the Premier League,” he said.

“We’re under no illusions it’s going to be easy. Every game in the Championship is going to be difficult but all I’ll say to my players is go out and if you play against Stewart Downing, try and come out on top against him because psychologically what a confidence boost that can be to some of our lads for the rest of the season if they can keep him quiet.”

“We’ve got the momentum of the previous season,” he added. “We’re at home, we’re in front of the Sky cameras and we’ve got a lot of things going our way.

“In terms of them, they’ve recruited ever so well, showing their ambition of what they’re looking to do, but I don’t think any team throughout the country are 100 per cent ready on that first game of the season for different reasons. It’s a good time to play them. Hopefully we can put on a performance and show people what we’re capable of doing.”

Downing, who has rejoined hometown team Middlesbrough, is set to make his second debut at Deepdale, and is a 4/1 anytime chance to hurt hosts Preston.

Coral’s top tip: Kike to score first @ 11/2.