Alex Neil urges Preston North End to come out fighting

Alex Neil insists he will not let his Preston North End side “lick their wounds” after back-to-back defeats on their travels in the Championship.

The Lilywhites lost 2-0 at both Norwich and Derby in the space of four days as their search for a first league win since the opening day goes on.

Ryan Ledson and Callum Robinson show their disappointment during the defeat at Derby on Saturday

Ryan Ledson and Callum Robinson show their disappointment during the defeat at Derby on Saturday

PNE have also not scored or picked up a point away from Deepdale ahead of heading to Leeds in the League Cup on Tuesday night.

“We can’t afford to sit and lick our wounds,” said Neil.

“Football is a relentless game and you can’t do that.

“We’ve got to stick our chests out, get working and go again.

“We’ve been in every game so far this season but hard luck stories don’t get you points.

“I’m not in the habit of making excuses and saying, ‘We’ve got this player missing, that player missing’. We are where we are.”

Both Alan Browne and Tom Clarke joined the absentee list at Pride Park on Saturday, with Paul Gallagher suspended and Sean Maguire and Billy Bodin out in the longer term.

“We’re inexperienced at this level at the moment,” said Neil.

“If you look at the side that started on Saturday, Graham Burke was playing his second game, Ryan Ledson played his first, Lukas Nmecha only has a handful of games, even Josh Harrop only has about 15 in the Championship. There’s Andrew Hughes too who is new to this league.

“It’s going to be tough but we need to learn and learn quickly.

“You always want to introduce young lads when you’re playing well and you’re at it.

“For young boys it can be a bit de-motivating when they come into the team and they think it’s their fault. And the fact is it’s not really their fault.

“They are good players and they work really hard for us. It’s certainly not through a lack of effort.”

The PNE boss believes that inexperience is making the difference when it matters, his side guilty of not making the most of their chances and then shipping soft goals.

“We’re not getting beaten because teams are better set up than us or have better players than us,” Neil said.

“We are getting beaten because of the key moments in the game and that’s where experience really tells.

“It’s about being in the right position at the right time and making the right decision at the right time, and they are the fine margins that decide whether you win or lose a game at this level.

Neil hopes Browne (hamstring) and Clarke (groin) will be back sooner rather than later. He is unlikely, however, to be able to make as many changes at Leeds as he did for the first-round win over Morecambe when he switched all 11 players.