Alex Neil reveals why away trips suit Preston North End ahead of trip to leaders Reading
Kings of the road Preston will aim for another away-day scalp when they face league leaders Reading this evening.
The Lilywhites’ contrasting home and away form has been well documented, with it being on their travels where all 10 points have been gathered.
Repairing their Deepdale fortunes will have to wait until after the international break, with the Reading clash (7pm) followed by Saturday’s trip to Rotherham United.
North End face a Royals side with a 100% record at the Madejski Stadium, so their away record is certainly going to be put to the test.
“Our performances away have been good, not just the results,” said PNE manager Alex Neil.
“The teams we have played away from home have suited us a bit better in the fact they have been expansive teams who have come out to try and beat us. That has allowed us to lock them down and hit them in transition.
“We are playing a very good Reading side, I watched them last week at Blackburn.
“In the first 20 minutes or so they had three shots at goal and scored all three – they were clinical.
“They have some really dangerous players and some really good technical players.
“Equally, they have been conceding goals recently.
“Reading will open the pitch up and risk the ball but they are not solely the type of team who want the ball, they will hit you in transition too.
“Rotherham went there a couple of weeks ago and had 65% possession – Reading beat them 3-0.”
With this a third midweek game in a row in a congested run of fixtures, Neil will seek to freshen his side up.
Andrew Hughes is looking at a spell on the sidelines after hurting his hamstring in the defeat to Birmingham. The left-back had to limp around for the last 15 minutes of that game Neil having made all of his substitutions.
Darnell Fisher went off in the second half with cramp in his hamstring. If it was only cramp, there is a chance he could play tonight against his home-town club.
Joe Rafferty can play in either full-back position and until Saturday had enjoyed a run of starts.
Josh Earl is likely to have an involvement in the squad, with him providing left-back cover.
Another option for Neil is for a change of system and the use of wing-backs in a 3-4-1-2 system.
He used the three at the back in the 2-1 victory over Huddersfield, with Alan Browne in the right wing-back slot and Rafferty on the left.
Ben Davies could return to the squad after four games out with an ankle injury.
The centre-back’s last slice of action came against Cardiff last month.
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