LEE CLARK can’t wait for tomorrow’s 77th Huddersfield Town-Preston league derby.
It’s a meeting of two history-rich clubs desperate to climb out of League I which is all set to attract Town’s biggest home gate of the season so far, beating the 12,053 who saw the opening-day draw with Bury.
And it pits the Galpharm boss against one of the rival managers he respects most.
“I have a huge amount of time for Phil Brown,” said Clark, whose second-placed side are chasing a fourth successive League I victory.
“He’s a lively North-Easterner who has operated at the highest level.
“I’ve had lots of conversations with him since I’ve been a manager and he has offered me great support.”
Brown, of course, led Hull City into the Premier League in 2008, having learned his trade as assistant to Colin Todd, then Sam Allardyce at Bolton, one of the four clubs he represented as a player.
The 52-year-old has been in charge of Preston since last January, and while he couldn’t stave off last season’s relegation from the Championship, is determined to lead North End back at the first attempt.
Preston cross the Pennines in seventh having suffered a blip of three successive defeats, the most recent 4-2 at home to Sheffield United on Wednesday.
But they won seven in a row before that, and there will be no complacency within the Town camp as Clark’s men aim to stretch their unbeaten league run to 39 matches, and claim a 30th league win over the Deepdale side (there have been 21 draws and 26 Preston victories).
Brown has a big fitness concern over eight-goal top scorer Neil Mellor, who missed the Sheffield United game because of an ankle injury.
But six-goal Iain Hume, the Canadian international striker signed from Barnsley, beat a back problem to face the Blades and should be available against Town.
The Preston squad also includes on-loan Burnley centre-back Clarke Carlisle, experienced midfielder Graham Alexander, in his second spell with the club and still going strong at 40, and former Aberdeen and Dunfermline man Barry Ferguson.