Alex Neil gears up for key speech ahead of Preston’s crunch clash with Burton

Preston manager Alex Neil says he will need to strike a balance during his team-talk ahead of the crunch clash with Burton on Sunday.

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Preston boss Alex Neil

Preston boss Alex Neil

The Lilywhites must beat Nigel Clough’s outfit to give themselves a chance of a late arrival in the play-offs.

They also need a favour from Barnsley who are playing Derby County – the side they are trying to overtake.

While Neil needs his side pumped up for the visit of the Brewers to Deepdale, he has to ensure that doesn’t cloud their decision-making.

Neil said: “There is clearly a balance to be struck here.

“I want to fuel the fire to a certain extent to get them pumped up.

“But I don’t want them so pumped up to the point that they are making rash decisions.

“They will need to think clearly in the game, so we need a bit of both.”

It is a two-way battle for the Championship’s sixth spot, with Derby in pole position as they hold a two-point lead over North End.

The maths is simple if Preston are to make an 11th appearance in the play-offs.

They have to win and the Rams need to lose.

What makes it fascinating is that Burton and Barnsley both need points in the battle to avoid the drop.

Said Neil: “It is good that a positive result could see us get in the play-offs.

“This can hopefully be an occasion where the fans and players can acknowledge the effort one another have put in over the season.

“We don’t want our season to end on Sunday, hopefully this is not a farewell.

“Let’s see what we can do, any game can be decided on one little factor – we have to make good decisions.”

An acknowledgement of John Welsh’s six years as a PNE player will form part of the build-up on Sunday.

Welsh, 34, is leaving the club when his contract ends next month, Preston announcing it yesterday so that he can get the send-off he deserves.