Boss Alex Neil wants to see show of strength from Preston North End

Alex Neil says he is working tirelessly to halt Preston’s form slump and hopes to see positive signs in tonight’s clash with Aston Villa.

PNE make the trip to Villa Park as the Championship’s bottom side and without a league win since the opening day of the season.

Paul Gallagher could return to the Preston squad at Aston Villa following a back injury

Paul Gallagher could return to the Preston squad at Aston Villa following a back injury

Naturally the pressure is on Neil to get them off the foot of the table and heading in the right direction.

That is pressure which he is determined to handle and come out of positively.

Neil said: “We can’t afford to panic, if you panic it only makes things worse.

“People talk about being supporters, about us being a proper team and unit.

“These are the times when that becomes so important.

“When things are going well for a team it is easier to be a supporter, it is easy to be a captain, a leader, a manager. When it is not going your way, it sets out the strong from the weak in terms of being able to take that burden.

“I understand people are disappointed and frustrated at the moment, as we all are.

“We are working tirelessly to put it right and I can assure everybody that the burden of making sure this team and this club does well, weighs very heavily with me.

“I’m desperate for us to do well, I don’t want us losing games.”

Following the bad news that Josh Harrop’s season has been ended by a torn cruciate ligament, Neil was hoping for more positive updates on the fitness of others in the squad.

Paul Gallagher missed the West Bromwich Albion game with a back injury.

A knee problem has kept Lukas Nmecha sidelined for the last three matches.

Callum Robinson’s fitness will also need a check after he limped off with a knee injury against Albion. Said 
Neil: “Lukas has had limited time in terms of his training but he should be okay for this one.

“Paul Gallagher has had a slight issue with his back so we want to make sure he is 100% before putting him back in.”

Neil is philosophical about his side’s current position as he prepares to face Villa.

“People ask the question whether we deserve to be at the bottom,” said Neil.

“If you are top of the league you can’t say you don’t deserve to be there, so equally when you are bottom you can’t say you shouldn’t be there.

“What I do think is that some of our performances have merited more points than we have got.

“What we have to focus on is where we are at the moment and trying to improve.”

Meanwhile, former PNE winger Eric Jones and club historian Ian Rigby are giving a talk on Sir Tom Finney at Preston Town Hall tomorrow night at 7pm.

The event is being run by the Preston Arts Society.