PNE boss aims for first away win at Birmingham

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Alex Neil wants that elusive away win to arrive sooner rather than later for Preston North End.

The PNE boss takes his side to Birmingham City tomorrow in search of their first victory on the road since January 2.

Chris Maxwell will make his 50th appearance for PNE against Birmingham

Chris Maxwell will make his 50th appearance for PNE against Birmingham

Neil senses they are not far away from that goal, draws on their travels this season at Leeds and Middlesbrough a sign they are heading in the right direction.

“This is a big game for us,” said Neil as he looked ahead to the trip to St Andrews.

“The next challenge for this team is to be winning on the road now.

“Having said that, I think two of our best performances this season have been away at Leeds and Middlesbrough.

Alex Neil is aiming for a first away win as PNE boss

Alex Neil is aiming for a first away win as PNE boss

“I thought that we played particularly well in both of those games.

“We need to get three points on the board, that is the test for us, that is their next challenge.

“When you look at where we have played away from home – Middlesbrough, Leeds, Derby – I think anyone going there would find it very tough to get anything.

“What we don’t want to be saying too often is that we should have won and we haven’t.

“I don’t want to be talking about that, I want to talk about getting three points.

“What we need to get a win is a bit of ruthlessness at the top end.

“At Middlesbrough and Leeds, we had opportunities to score and didn’t take them.

“Particularly against the bigger teams, you have to take chances when they come.

“We can’t be having three or four chances and not end up scoring one.”

PNE will again be without Ben Pearson tomorrow but there is a chance that Daniel Johnson might return.

Darnell Fisher is having his fitness assessed after coming off late in Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Cardiff.

Neil said: “Darnell had a bit of tightness in his groin, when he was running he could feel it tightening up.

“The fact we were in a good position in the game made it easy to make that change.

“Ben and DJ are making good progress. DJ was one we were looking at for Tuesday night but it came too soon.

“We’re hoping he has a real chance of being right for this game, while we are hopeful of Ben being back for Millwall.”

Tomorrow’s game will be the 50th appearance in the PNE keeper’s jersey for Chris Maxwell.

He will again be covered by Mat Hudson from the bench, Declan Rudd’s thigh injury having flared up again.

Said Neil: “Declan has had a reoccurrence.

“He’s had it scanned and unfortunately he has opened the injury back up.

“It it going to take a few more weeks to get right, which is unfortunate.”