Boss Alex Neil on on how his Preston North End squad is beginning to evolve

Alex Neil thinks Preston are entering a third phase in terms of the squad he has had during his time as manager at Deepdale.

Saturday, 24th October 2020, 8:00 am

The Scot noted how the side which beat Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday night contained several players who have recently started to establish themselves.

He picked out Jordan Storey, Ryan Ledson, Joe Rafferty and Brad Potts in that group, coupled with the arrival of new boy Emil Riis.

Neil said: “We are going into our next stage. When you look at managers who have stayed for a decent length of time at clubs, you can see the different phases they have.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Preston North End defender Jordan Storey

“You don’t see that as often these days because coaches don’t stay around long enough to have different phases.

“In the last two years or so we have invested in younger players, albeit in the last two windows we have only signed two players.

“However, people like Ryan Ledson, who has been here for a significant amount of time, is now coming to the fore.

“Jordan Storey is playing more, he started the first game of the season and was in the side the other night.

“There’s Joe Rafferty who was functioning at left-back for the majority of his time here. He’s played most of his games at right-back this season.

“Brad Potts has had three starts in a row, these are guys who weren’t necessarily featuring week in, week out last season for us.

“When you add Emil to that, you are talking five players who started at QPR.

“From the outside because these guys have been here for a while, it looks like nothing has really altered but it has.

“The next phase is starting to take shape.”

In terms of those phases, Neil looks back on his three years and three months in charge and is able to see how the squad has changed.

“Since I’ve been here we have signed 25 players, a lot of them younger development lads,” said Neil.

“I inherited a squad with some older lads in and we’ve had a massive transition in my time here.

“That was the first phase, then things started to evolve with Ben Davies playing all the time at centre-half, Ben Pearson becoming a sitter.

“Alan Browne became the No.10 and then last season we had DJ becoming the No.10

“Now we have got Pottsy, Ryan, Jordan and Joe being filtered into the team.

“So I would say this is the third big phase.

“Have we had to do this or is it by choice? It’s a bit of both I would say.

“We have got players who are running out of contract and it would be negligent of me to keep ticking along without thinking about what happens if they chose to leave.”