Preston boss Alex Neil backs side to continue matching big boys

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Alex Neil has backed his Preston North End side to again prove that reputations count for nothing when they head to Middlesbrough tomorrow.

Garry Monk has spent big in the transfer market since taking charge in a bid to engineer a swift return to the top flight for a side relegated from the Premier League last season.

Jordan Hugill

Jordan Hugill

But the Lilywhites have picked up seven points from four games against other fancied sides to start the season.

Only the defeat to Derby has been a real disappointment, with Neil starting life as North End boss with impressive performances against Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds and Reading.

The travelling Preston fans will be hoping their side can now back up the victory over the Royals at the Riverside Stadium and complete a more than satisfactory first month of the season.

“We know what we’re going to face,” Neil said.

“They’ve spent something in the region of £40m with the signings they’ve made and they’ve got guys that are proven in the Championship and some in the Premier League.

“But what we’ve done in the last four games is shown big names and big games don’t faze us.

“We’ll go there with a real belief and a determination to win the game.”

That confidence and conviction has only increased as the early part of the season has progressed, Neil’s new style of play being bought into by his emerging squad.

“We’ve had four good markers,” the PNE boss said.

“I don’t think you get an easy game in the Championship but we’ve not had any games where people are expecting us to go and pick up the three points.

“I think all the games we’ve played so far we’ve arguably been the underdog.

“But we know what we’re capable of doing and we’ve got a focus and determination and an expectation of how we should be playing and what we should be doing, and I think we’ve matched that so far.”

Of all the tests so far though this might be the toughest as Neil comes up against a man he played with at Barnsley in Monk.

Britt Assombalonga has arrived from Nottingham Forest for £15m as Boro have spent big.

“Before a ball was kicked, certainly with the squad they’ve had, the fact they’ve been in the Premier League and the amount of money they spent over the summer, I think that points towards them being favourites,” Neil said.

“Sometimes that carries an unnecessary pressure and an unwanted pressure.

“We’re not concerned about what Middlesbrough are doing, we’re just concerned about ourselves.”