Alex Neil delivers classy Preston North End response as Stoke City await the Lilywhites
Stoke City boss Alex Neil only had good things to say about Preston North End ahead of Saturday’s meeting at the bet365 Stadium.
The Lilywhites head to the Potteries for their fifth Championship match of the season, with the first international break of the campaign set to follow. North End have picked up 10 points from a possible 12 so far this season.
Stoke have struggled on the road but have been scintillating on home soil. The Potters go into Saturday’s match after thrashing Rotherham United 6-1 in the Carabao Cup, but Neil is not taking his old club lightly.
”They’ve had a great start,” said Neil, of PNE. “They haven't lost a game so far; they are very dangerous out of possession in terms of when we've got the ball. They’re well set up, they carry a threat. They’ve had some tough games and managed to come through them.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game. But if we can continue our form at home - I think our performances at home have been very good - there’s no reason why we can’t get a positive result.”
Neil snapped up Preston stalwart Daniel Johnson on the back of his contract expiring at Deepdale this summer. Johnson has some familiar faces in the dressing room, with Ben Pearson having returned to Stoke and Paul Gallagher joining the coaching staff in July too. Neil played down the narrative there, though, when asked if the number of ex-PNE men comes into it.
“Not really,” he said. “A long time has passed now and I've been at another club before I came here. I've got nothing but good feelings about Preston and I look fondly on my time there. It was a good club for me for four seasons and I’ve got a lot of great relationships.
“We developed some really good players, had a really good team for a number of years and competed in the top half of the Championship. I’m obviously desperate to win the game, but that would be the same regardless who we play.
“As far as Preston goes, I really enjoyed my time there and I don't look back on it with anything apart from appreciation in terms of getting the opportunity.”