Preston North End's successful survival battle three seasons ago will stand them in good stead, says goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, as the Lilywhites look to pull off a repeat performance in the current npower Championship campaign.

Long-serving Lonergan, in his 11th season at Deepdale after graduating through the youth ranks, is set for his 200th League appearance for the club when the bottom of the table team entertain Ipswich Town on Saturday with points the only priority.

It was a similar situation at this stage of the 2007/08 season, when for seven weeks around the turn of the year Preston were in the relegation zone.

But after starting to climb the table in mid-January they finished in a respectable 15th position - and over the coming five months, insists Lonergan, they can likewise ensure that they once again maintain their Championship status.

The 27-year-old keeper told "We're not in a good situation right now, but we were in the same predicament three seasons ago and we can definitely take heart from what we achieved back then.

"Circumstances have been against us for a lot of the season so far. We've had such a small squad, for example, that at times we've only had one striker available.

"That's improved a bit of late with loan signings, and we've started to pick up points with some improved performances which is encouraging.

"Now we've got games coming up against teams just a few places above us in the table, so if we can get some wins out of these we could start pushing upwards."

After Saturday's meeting with Ipswich - themselves slipping into trouble with five successive League defeats - and a visit to Watford, the Lilywhites face Scunthorpe United then Middlesbrough, both of those teams in danger near the foot of the table.

So, as Lonergan says, he and his team mates have the opportunity to build a survival campaign that may just have started last week at second in the table Cardiff City. A shock win was on the cards until the Bluebirds equalised four minutes into stoppage time to rob Preston of two precious points.

"That's the way things go for you when you're at the wrong end of the table," said Lonergan. "We've spent a fair bit of time at the top end over the last few years (Preston have reached the Play-Offs in three of the last six seasons) and when you're up there you seem to get the rub of the green - but it's the opposite at the other end."

A change of fortune would of course delight Lonergan, for whom a 200th League appearance in his home town club's colours will on Saturday be cause for celebration only with a much-needed first win in eight outings.

"Getting to 200 League games for the club is a good stat," said the keeper, "but the most important stat on Saturday will be putting three points against our name."

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