Better options available for Preston North End boss Alex Neil ahead of trip to Bournemouth

Alex Neil will have a couple more selection options available to him tonight as he attempts to steer Preston North End back on course at Bournemouth.

Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites manager was forced into a change of system by a lengthy absence list against Watford but will have more flexibility for the Vitality Stadium clash.

Alan Browne and Joe Rafferty return after serving one-match bans, Browne for five bookings and Rafferty after being shown a red card in last week’s derby defeat to Blackburn.

Neil can use Browne either in midfield or at right-back, with Rafferty able to operate in either full-back role.

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North End midfielder Alan Browne

He used wing-backs in a 3-5-2 at Watford, a system Neil was not unhappy with despite the 4-1 scoreline.

It was Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen who played as the wing-backs, both wingers by trade.

Neil said: “If you play with wing-backs, you can have wingers there or lads who normally play as full-backs.

“If you want to be really aggressive, Scotty and Tom are the natural fit there.

“If you want to be a bit more defensive, you put full-backs there.

“We’d liked to have done that at Watford but didn’t have any full-backs available.

“For parts of the game at Watford, I thought the shape looked good.

“It’s not a lock-on shape where you go and hunt the ball, it creates more of a game where one side will have the ball and then the other does for a spell.”

Bournemouth fall into the same category of opponent as Watford did , with them looking to go straight back up to the Premier League after being relegated.

The current top three in the Championship are the trio of relegated sides, Norwich top, with Bournemouth in second and Watford third.

Said Neil: “This is a tough fixture, no question about it but it’s not daunting.

“We went to Norwich and should have won, we were fantastic at Brentford and we were fantastic at Reading.

“I think we are more than capable of getting something, that is how we always approach a game.

“It makes it easier when you have got everyone fighting fit and fresh which hasn’t always been the case.

“Are we capable of getting something at Bournemouth? Of course we are.

“Will we have to play particularly well for that to happen? Yes, I think we will have to play very well to get something.”

PNE striker Jayden Stockley will be desperate to be involved, the Poole-born player having started his career with the Cherries and made his debut for them while still at school.

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