Ex-Preston North End striker Jon Parkin backing Alex Neil

Jon Parkin pictured in his North End days
Jon Parkin pictured in his North End days

Former Preston striker Jon Parkin is backing Alex Neil to get the Lilywhites heading up the Championship table.

Parkin and PNE boss Neil were team-mates for a time at Barnsley in the early 2000s.

Parkin clashes with Blackpool players in a Lancashire derby in 2010

Parkin clashes with Blackpool players in a Lancashire derby in 2010

North End resume action after the international break on Saturday when they host Reading at Deepdale.

It has not been the best of starts to the season, Neil’s men in 19th place with five points from six games.

They now face a burst of seven games in three weeks, six of those in the league.

Parkin told the Post: “In my view Preston have got a very good manager in Alex.

“I was in the Barnsley squad with him 16 or 17 years ago and as a player Alex was proper hard-working, gritty and determined.

“As a manager I think he has got those same traits. Alex will say himself that he wasn’t an incredible player but he had character.

“His record as a manager is impressive – he has got two clubs promoted.

“He likes his teams to be a reflection of himself, putting in the hard work and having character.

“I watched the 2-0 win at Leeds in the League Cup the other week as a commentator.

“They played really well that night, especially having gone down to 10 men when the young lad Ryan Ledson was sent off.

“I know Leeds made a lot of changes for the game but so did Preston and I thought they managed the game well.

“If they can replicate that display on a regular basis, they’ll be fine.”

Parkin was impressed with PNE’s seventh-place finish last term, one which set the bar high for this season.

“Looking at it objectively, with the money some of the Championship clubs have compared to Preston, you would say that mid-table is par for them,” said Parkin.

“So for them to have only just missed out on the top six, and done better than some of the big guns, was impressive.

“The challenge now is to try and do that again, try and go that little bit further.”

Parkin is still playing at York City in the National League North.

While the 36-year-old has turned his hand to writing – his autobiography ‘Feed the Beast’ is published today – he is not ready to hang up his boots just yet.

“I’m still plodding on and I’ll be 37 in December,” said Parkin.

“I don’t want to get to the point where I’m not scoring or contributing.

“I think I’m around the 225-goal mark in my career so if I have a decent season and get closer to 250, that would be a big factor in carrying 
on.”

Read the Big Interview with Jon Parkin in Saturday’s Lancashire Post which looks back at his time at Deepdale