Clean slate for Alex Neil as Preston chase first away win since January at Leeds

Alex Neil says he starts with a clean slate when it comes to improving Preston's form on the road.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 11th August 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 1:08 pm

The Lilywhites have not won away since January 2, with the 11 league games on their travels since ending in five draws and six defeats.

Neil’s first away match at Accrington on Tuesday night in the Caraboa Cup saw them beaten 3-2.

Tomorrow, he takes his side to Elland Road to face Leeds United and is relishing the challenge that presents.

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“Our approach since I came in has been different anyway,” said Neil.

“To judge the way the team performed away from home last season to this season, is a bit premature.

“Let’s see how we get on and if there are any tweaks to be made, then we will make them.

“My approach wasn’t the one we had last year – I know how I want us to play.

“That is what we’ll do and people can make a judgement after that.”

Neil made nine changes for the Accrington tie and is set to revert to the side – or close to it – which beat Sheffield Wendesday last Saturday.

The big decision he will have is whether to start with Jordan Hugill after his two goals in midweek.

Hugill was a sub in the opening-day win, coming off the bench to earn the penalty which gave PNE victory.

Sean Maguire would make way from the attack if Hugill is chosen, but he could be given a role in the supply line.

Said Neil: “Sean did well in the Sheffield Wednesday game, putting himself up against their centre-backs for 60-70 minutes.

“When Jordan came on, got the penalty and then scored two goals on Tuesday night.

“At Accrington, we brought Sean on to play with Jordan.

“When we didn’t have the ball, Sean was tasked with the job of dropping in and taking care of their sitting midfielder.

“But if we had it, he got up to play as a two with Jordan.

“We have got the option if we want of going to a two, while Sean can play in a wide area which he did for a spell last week.”

Away from the build-up to the Leeds game, North End bid farewell to goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly yesterday and to striker Stevie May.

Kelly brought to an end his long association with PNE, one which started as a player in 1985 and resumed in the coaching role in 2013.

A statement from the club said: “This decision is solely Alan’s and he will leave with our thanks and best wishes for the future.”

May joined Aberdeen for an undisclosed fee after being at PNE for two nearly two years.

Much of that time was spent recovering from a knee injury which threatened his career.