Kelly takes charge at Deepdale

Preston have announced assistant manager Robert Kelly is to take temporary charge of the Coca-Cola Championship club following the sacking of Alan Irvine.

The Lilywhites announced the sacking of Irvine earlier today, little more than six months after the Scot guided the team to the play-offs.

However, the Lancashire club have struggled badly in recent weeks and yesterday’s defeat by Sheffield United left them in 16th with just seven wins all season.

The club announced this evening Kelly would be in charge until a permanent replacement for Irvine is installed.

Chairman Derek Shaw told the club’s official website, www.pnefc.net: “After discussions with Robert Kelly, he has agreed to take charge of training from tomorrow and will be in charge until any further announcements are made.

“He will be selecting the side for Saturday’s game against Colchester United.”

Kelly has had coaching spells at Wolves, Blackburn, Watford and Leicester where he was initially caretaker boss before being given the job on a full-time basis in 2006.

However, he was released in April 2007 before moving to Preston as assistant to manager Paul Simpson.

When Simpson was released in November that year Kelly stepped in as caretaker manager, reverting to the role of assistant boss when Irvine was appointed days later.

Former Everton assistant boss Irvine has won many admirers since being appointed at Deepdale and Preston claimed a top-six finish last season before being beaten in the play-offs by Sheffield United.

However, yesterday’s 1-0 defeat by the Blades proved to be Irvine’s last match in charge after it left North End with just one win in their last 10 league outings.

Shaw said: “The decision was not taken lightly. Alan did an extremely good job in keeping us in the Championship and took us to the play-offs last season.

“However, after a good start to the 2009/10 campaign we have only picked up seven points from a possible 30 since our last away victory against Sheffield Wednesday on October 20.

“In that period we have only scored six goals and that sort of record is not something we could allow to continue without addressing it.”

Preston operate with one of the smallest budgets in the division and Shaw paid tribute to Irvine for his efforts.

“I would like to place on record the club’s sincere thanks to Alan for his efforts in his time here,” he said.

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