Alex Neil’s ONLY focus is making Gentry Day a success for Preston North End at WBA

Preston manager Alex Neil is attracting strong interest from tomorrow's opponents West Bromwich Albion
Preston manager Alex Neil is attracting strong interest from tomorrow's opponents West Bromwich Albion

Alex Neil will have the eyes of both the Preston ‘Gentry’ and West Bromwich fans on him at the Hawthorns tomorrow.

Neil heads to the Midlands very much a man in demand, the Baggies reportedly having him as their No.1 target to fill their head coach vacancy.

PNE want to keep hold of the Scotsman to continue the impressive work he has done at Deepdale since July 2017.

The timing of this match means it is likely to be after the weekend that Albion make any interest official.

Neil tried to steer clear the best he could of the subject at yesterday’s press conference to preview the game.

It was the fourth time he had been asked about it over the last few weeks since the WBA link emerged.

“I’m not going to talk about West Brom, I’m manager of Preston North End,” said Neil. “People can talk as much as they want to talk.

“The fact we are playing West Brom is probably why the speculation has reared its head again.”

Neil’s focused is on trying to give the 2,700 travelling PNE fans a good Gentry Day – the club’s annual act of remembrance and celebration.

He delivered that last year at Bolton and wants the same this time.

“Last year was probably my best experience since I have been here,” said Neil. “I really enjoyed it, that was a new experience for me.

“It was a good day out for the fans, a great victory and performance from us. When you go to a club where there is a good tradition you can stay on the periphery or try and immerse yourself in it.

“I’m always one to immerse myself in things and I want to be part of it.

“This is a game I’m looking forward to and a good result will help.”

In midweek, Neil’s men dropped eight points behind the play-off pace and, with five games to go, making that gap up would take some doing.

Neil said: “Naturally we will get written-off because we’ve lost three games – that is football. When you are winning you’re going to win the league and when you lose, suddenly you are relegation fodder.

“We will go out to win the next game and if we do that, it is three points and ‘game on’.

“Then we’ll focus on the next one and see where we are after that.”

North End head down the M6 without Ben Pearson who starts a three-game ban after his red card against Leeds.

Ryan Ledson is likely to be drafted into midfield, while Paul Gallagher will hopefully be available after sitting out the Leeds defeat.

Gallagher is the only one of the walking wounded who has a chance of returning.

“I’m not convinced that Brad Potts will make it but I’m very hopeful that Gally will,” said Neil.