Alex Neil delighted to have Ben Pearson back in business for Preston

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Alex Neil believes the hour of action Ben Pearson got against Fulham will stand him good stead for the visit to league leaders Wolves this weekend.

The midfielder played his first game for eight weeks at Craven Cottage, an injury he picked up at Middlesbrough in August having sidelined him.

Ben Pearson was back in action at Fulham

Ben Pearson was back in action at Fulham

Neil had no hesitation in throwing Pearson straight back in from the start, even though he ran out of steam in the second half.

Said Neil: “I wanted to win the game so why would I put my best players on the bench when they are ready?

“It was a great hour out there for Ben, he will be fine.

“We are hoping that will help him leading into the next couple of games.

“Wolves and Brentford, I would suggest, are not too dissimilar in terms of the style they play – not formation – but in the way they want to get the ball down and pop it around.”

With Pearson back in the engine room, North End took a 2-0 lead at Fulham.

But once he went off in the 59th minute – in addition to the loss of Sean Maguire and Tom Barkhuizen – they 
could not maintain their 
high-pressing game.

Said Neil: “Ben had only trained for three days in six weeks or so.

“He is such a key performer for us that I felt we needed him in the team and it was great to see him back out there.

“As soon as I took him off, you could see we had to sit off the game because to play that way you need real energy and legs in central areas.

“No disrespect to John Welsh who came on, he is a very different type of player.

“John is not going to get up to engage and then recover if the ball goes past him.

“We had to then adapt the way we played, which I didn’t want to do but you can only deal with what you have got.”

Pearson managed to steer clear of trouble at Fulham and avoid a booking.

His previous four games this season had seen him get a yellow card, with a second caution at Leeds seeing him sent off.

Neil, meanwhile, says the performance for the main part at Fulham, showed that North End feared no one in the Championship.

It was their ninth match unbeaten, a run which has kept them in the top six for the past month.

Asked if Preston could be seen as a force to be reckoned with, Neil said: “I would like to think so.

“I don’t think we are scared of anyone, we didn’t go down to Fulham and think, ‘They are good so we will sit off them and let them have the ball’.

“As the game went on, we had to adapt as we couldn’t get up to the ball as quickly.

“Only a mistake at the end meant we weren’t sitting there thinking how well we had 
fluctuated between styles.”