Alex Neil on what it will take to turn his Preston North End players’ back into winners

Alex Neil says Preston North End’s confidence has clearly taken a knock during their run of defeats but is backing them to come through it.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 6:00 am
Preston manager Alex Neil makes his point to the assistant referee during the defeat to Queens Park Rangers

The 2-0 loss to Queens Park Rangers was their fourth on the bounce and they have not scored in those games either.

Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher were both missing from the midfield, the pair’s absence telling with North End lacking creativity.

PNE have little time to feel sorry for themselves after the QPR setback, as they host third-place Fulham at Deepdale tomorrow night.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Addressing the confidence issue, Neil said: “When some of the lads have come into the team and we’ve gone from winning all those games to not playing so well and not scoring, naturally those boys are getting themselves a little bit down.

“We need to shake that off because we are going to go through rough spells, that is something we spoke about after the game.

“It’s not as if we are expected to go and romp to win 80 per cent of our games.

“There have been spells when we have gone through sticky patches but in my time being here, nearly every single one of them has coincided with people being missing.

“We need to come through the other side, we need to go and get some points on the board and obviously Tuesday is a big game.”

Gallagher was missing for the second game running, with Johnson joining him on the sidelines with a knee injury picked up in the West Bromwich Albion game.

Patrick Bauer, Ben Davies and Darnell Fisher were also sidelined at QPR.

It is unlikely that Johnson will be back quickly with it being his knee but Neil is not putting a time estimate on any of his injured players. He did get Andrew Hughes and Tom Clarke back at QPR, Hughes coming through the 90 minutes at left-back and club captain Clarke as an unused substitute.

With regards to Johnson’s injury, Neil said: “If you remember the one when he lunged in the first half last week, that has caused him an issue – it’s his knee.

“Answering questions about the injuries is hard for me because they get better day by day. What I don’t want to say is that they are nowhere near and then they rock up and play, or vice-versa.

“They are betting better, we will monitor them and hope they are back as soon as possible.

“About 60 per cent of our goals have come through Gally and DJ, whether they have scored them or been involved in the creation.

“They are normally the technicians who drop in next to Ben Pearson and help us tick. That allows us to push Alan Browne higher up.”