Alex Neil on what Preston North End need to do to find consistency

Daniel Johnson missed games at the start of the season
Daniel Johnson missed games at the start of the season

Alex Neil says that Preston North End having their ‘stalwarts’ available on a regular basis will help in their quest of climbing away from the Championship’s lower reaches.

Lilywhites manager Neil has been frustrated to have missed some of his regular starters at various stages of the season to date.

Injuries and suspensions have hampered a consistent selection, 24 players having been used in the 15 league games so far.

That said, there has been some voluntary chopping and changing from Neil too in the search for a winning formula.

Neil said: “Injuries haven’t helped us and neither have suspensions.

“When you look at it we have missed Paul Gallagher, Ryan Ledson and Ben Pearson through suspension. Ben has missed four games and we’ve only played 15 league games, so that is a bit disappointing.

“Alan Browne has missed games through injury, Tom Clarke has, Josh Harrop is out for the season and probably so is Billy Bodin.

“Sean Maguire missed the first couple of months with his injury.

“It’s meant we’ve had to add a bit of youth to the team to deal with that.

“When you bring younger players in, you really need your stalwarts in the spine of the team to be available more often than not.

“For spells of this season, that hasn’t been the case.

“Daniel Johnson missed the start of the season with his contract situation not having been resolved.

“There has been a lot to contend with but I still believe we should have picked up more points in that spell than we did.

“People missing is not an excuse, it’s what happened.

“We’ve got better of late and hopefully our good run can continue.”

North End face the first of back-to-back away matches today when they face Ipswich at Portman Road.

The Suffolk side will have Paul Lambert in charge for the first time, the third manager to be in office since April.

That is when the five-year tenure of Mick McCarthy came to an end, Paul Hurst replacing him in June.

But Ipswich’s poor form cost Hurst his job after just 14 league games.

Neil does wonder whether they would be struggling had McCarthy stayed.

“I managed down there at Norwich when big Mick was there,” said Neil.

“To be honest, I don’t think the club wanted Mick to 
leave.

“I think the fans were the biggest issue in terms of Mick leaving.

“Some of the abuse he was getting, considering what he had done for the club, was quite frightening.”