Bournemouth have the Premier League experience and the squad, says Preston boss Alex Neil

Preston boss Alex Neil feels Bournemouth have to be considered contenders for promotion this season given their track record in the top flight.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 8:00 am

Today’s Deepdale visitors were relegated from the Premier League last season after a five-year stay.

Over that time, the Cherries spent handsomely on fleshing out their squad and many of those players are still at the Vitality Stadium.

Jonathan Woodgate’s men are currently sixth in the Championship, occupying the final play-off spot by just a point, as they prepare for this afternoon’s game.

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Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere

Neil said: “Any team that comes down from the Premier League will be considered as a contender because they’ve accumulated, over five years of being in the division, Premier League players and a Premier League squad. They have guys who are on vast amounts of money, internationals who have competed at the highest level in this country.

“They’ve got a strength in depth in this league that very few have. The players they have cover most areas of the pitch, they have game changers in most areas on the pitch, and that’s about as much strength as you need.

“The longer they spend at this level the harder that will become because they have to balance the books, and the better players will want to try and play at a better level.”

There has been plenty of plaudits for the Cherries in recent weeks, as their form has picked up and big names such as former England and Arsenal man Jack Wilshere have been involved.

It is a star-studded squad for Championship level, with a sprinkling of international experience right throughout.

In contrast, Neil is used to his team going under the radar and says his side’s motivation comes from within.

“The majority of the time we are the underdog,” he said.

“I think that’s how most see us anyway – we have had two Sky games recently, and I didn’t know we were playing until the game kicked off.

“That’s the type of coverage we get, which is fine, it is what it is. We’ve just got to do as well as we can for ourselves.

“I’ve said this from the get go, so this isn’t reactive because we lost the last game in the last five minutes – we need to give the lads that have come in time.

“It’s really difficult to expect them to come in and hit top, top levels. They’ve been banded together in such a short space of time.

“The ones who do gel together and have been here for a couple of years, a lot of them are currently missing.

“That makes it even more difficult. You’re not then relying on four or five new guys, you’re relying on seven or eight and I think that’s significantly different than adding two or three to your line-up.”