Neil was a team-mate of May at Hamilton and went on to manage him too for a brief period – one in which May hit top form.
The striker has battled back from a career-threatening knee injury and this pre-season is a big one for him in terms of his North End future.
Amid some strong interest from Aberdeen, May will be given the chance to impress at Deepdale.
You sense that the arrival of Neil will work in May’s favour in terms of being afforded the time to catch the eye.
A first chance for that to happen comes at Bamber Bridge on Friday (7pm) as PNE make their annual visit to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
Neil told the Post: “Stevie was a team-mate of mine at Hamilton, he came on loan.
“When the manager left, a guy called Billy Reid, I took over from him.
“Stevie then went on a run of scoring 11 goals in six games for me – if he can replicate that or anything near it, we will be doing alright.
“He’s had a tough time has Stevie, what we have got to do is rebuild his confidence.
“There is no question that he is a talented lad and I think he has a lot to offer.”
May tore three ligaments in his right knee in November 2015 and was out of the game for more than a year.
He started the final two matches of last term, scoring his first Preston goal in the 1-1 draw against Rotherham.
Neil will get the chance to run the rule over most of the squad at Brig, having seen them in training on Thursday.
It is likely that North End will field different teams in each half at this early stage of the build-up to the new season.
On Saturday they travel to Fota Island, near Cork, for a six-day training camp.
That has been in the diary all summer from when Simon Grayson was in charge and will provide Neil with the chance to really start getting his ideas over.
“This will be absolutely perfect,” said Neil.
“It takes the players out of their comfort zone and allows us to spend time together.
“They will get to know me thoroughly and I will get a taste of them.
“We will have a few days of hard work, building on what they have done so far.”
Admission at Bamber Bridge is Â£8 adults, Â£5 concessions and Â£1 Under-16s.