Boss Alex Neil saw positive signs for the future in Preston North End's midweek win at St Andrew's

Alex Neil hopes Preston’s victory over Birmingham in midweek bodes well for the future after it was achieved with a much-changed side.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 22nd January 2021, 8:00 am

The PNE boss thinks the team he put out at St Andrew’s showed that the quality he has available him is starting to run deeper into the squad.

Three of his four January signings started the 1-0 win, with Jayson Molumby, Ben Whitehead and Daniel Iversen featuring.

Neil started without some of the stalwarts of the side in recent seasons – some through injury and others by choice.

Jayson Molumby in action in the midweek win at Birmingham City

Scott Sinclair, a new face this time last year, scored the winner on Wednesday night, finishing off a fine move on the counter-attack involving Molumby and Whitehead.

“When you look at the team we put out at Birmingham, we had four or five starters who have signed in the last couple of transfer windows,” said Neil.

“We’ve mixed it up a little bit, partly because of injuries and other things.

“We have Declan Rudd and Pat Bauer out for the season, Ben Pearson isn’t available at the moment, Paul Gallagher is getting older.

“Darnell Fisher, Daniel Johnson and Tom Barkhuizen didn’t start, they have all been regular starters for me.

“So to go to Birmingham and win in the manner we did was pleasing.

“We are 10th now, a bit outside the play-offs but we have done pretty well.

“We need to get the new lads bedded in because next year – but hopefully this year – is going to be a big year for us.”

Neil admits if North End are going to push on from where they are, some more consistency is needed.

Their 11 wins are impressive but the 12 defeats suffered in the league do not make for great reading. They have only drawn twice, sharing the spoils against Norwich and Wycombe, that the lowest number of draws in the Championship.

Said Neil: “One of my frustrations this season is that we seem to win one and then lose one.

“We could do with a couple of draws in there instead of defeats just for a bit more consistency.

“The 11 wins we’ve had is very good, we know we are capable of going anywhere and winning.

“Seven of them have been away, we went to Bournemouth and won, we’ve won at some difficult places like Brentford.

“I’d just like a bit more consistency so that we can go on a decent unbeaten run.

“If we could turn some of the losses into draw, we would be all right.”

North End return to action on Sunday lunchtime when they host Reading at Deepdale in a game being televised by Sky Sports (12.30pm).

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