Boss Alex Neil says Preston North End’s Darnell Fisher must keep up physical side to his game
Preston manager Alex Neil does not want Darnell Fisher to lose the tough-tackling nature of his game.
Fisher yesterday won an appeal to the FA against the red card he got against West Bromwich Albion.
He was sent off for a tackle on Callum Robinson but the Lilywhites lodged an appeal on the grounds Fisher had won the ball, had not challenged with excessive force and had not followed through.
The successful appeal saved him from a three-game suspension, leaving him free to face Fulham at Craven Cottage tomorrow (3pm).
Although Fisher does collect too many bookings and needs to watch his step, Neil thinks players in his position need a degree of aggression in their game.
Neil said: “Darnell can’t lose that aggression. In the position that he plays it is important to have that.
“Full-backs, midfielders, particularly central midfielders, centre-backs, if you are not aggressive in those positions it is a weakness.
“You are going to have win duels, challenges, you have to physically make sure you can compete with your opponent.
“That is part and parcel of the game in those positions.”
Neil felt Fisher’s reputation went before him in getting the red card at The Hawthorns.
It was the only card which Premier League referee Kevin Friend showed in a game which was far from physical.
Said Neil: “I don’t think there is any question that was the case.
“If you go back a few years to when Roy Keane made a tackle, that was much more likely to get a booking than a flowery winger making the same challenge.
“We all go into games, look at the opposition and know who the tough tacklers are.
“If they go flying in for a challenge, automatically we want them booked.
“That is natural for both teams and I think Darnell’s reputation preceded him.”
Fisher’s availability in the capital means any changes Neil makes will be voluntary rather than enforced.
He could well tweak things in the wake of Tuesday night’s defeat, having plenty of options going forward.
On the back of facing league leaders West Bromwich, a trip to third-placed Fulham is another tough assignment.
They will be well backed, the 1,964 allocation having sold out some weeks ago.
Neil takes the view that the recent fixtures for North End sum the Championship up.
He said: “The three games before we played West Bromwich were against teams who sat in relatively deep blocks and made it difficult for you to break down.
“We’ve gone from that to playing West Bromwich and Fulham who are the complete opposite.”