Alex Neil is planning to make the most of Preston North End’s first free midweek of the season.
It has been a hectic start to the season with five games in the first 14 days of the new campaign.
After kicking off the season against Sheffield Wednesday on August 5, the Lilywhites have also faced Leeds, Derby and Reading in Championship action as part of a gruelling opening couple of weeks.
But the first-round League Cup defeat at Accrington – North End going down 3-2 at the Crown Ground on August 8 – means Neil, his staff and players have had time to breathe for the first time this week.
For a manager who likes to study the opposition and has admitted previously that he prefers games coming every Saturday, the free midweek also allows Neil to take an even closer look at this weekend’s opponents Middlesbrough, with Garry Monk’s side expected to be in the promotion shake-up come May.
It also means the workload will be a little bit less intense for his analyst Ali Lishman ahead of the trip to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
“For me it’s good and I’m sure my analyst will be delighted,” Neil said with a smile.
“We do a lot of work on the opposition in terms of how they play and it’s been really, really intense with long hours.
“We’ve made sure our preparations are as thorough as possible and a lot of the staff are new to that.
“They’ll be welcoming the break I think.
“It’s the way I’ve always operated so it’s not anything new to me.
“It is intense with the quick turnaround with Saturday- Tuesday- Saturday games to start the season.
“We’re trying to get to see other games too which I’ll hopefully be able to do, so there’s still not much time for rest.”