Extra time for PNE

Preston striker Tom Barkhuizen is set to face his former club Morecambe tonight
Preston striker Tom Barkhuizen is set to face his former club Morecambe tonight

Preston manager Alex Neil will increase his players’ time on the pitch in the midweek double header at Morecambe and Accrington Stanley.

North End head to the Globe Arena tonight (7.30pm) to face the Shrimps.

Then it is off to the east of the county tomorrow, with Stanley awaiting them at the Crown Ground.

Neil has the numbers in the squad to cover matches on consecutive nights.

After limiting his outfield players to 45-minute runs at Bamber Bridge and Stockport, they will get an hour in one of the two games.

“We are moving to the stage now where we will play a team for 60 minutes and make the substitutions for the last 30 minutes,” Neil told the Post.

“Then we will swap them around for the game the night after.

“Then we will start to build 90 minutes into them from the weekend onwards.

“The lads have played two games so far and we are now going into a more intense spell of matches.

“When you look at how they were at Stockport, you had to bear in mind it was on the back of the trip to Ireland and what they did there.

“They did a double session last Monday and Tuesday, a single session on Wednesday, another double on Thursday and then a session on Friday before flying home.

“From that they went into Saturday’s game and maybe were feeling their legs a bit.”

Neil has enjoyed getting to know the Preston squad and working with them over the last 10 days or so.

The Scotsman said: “I have got a great bunch, they really are good lads.

“I want to get to the stage quickly where I know what they are capable of.

“There will be wee bits of frustration along the way because they have been used to playing a different style at times. I’m a great believer that if that they do things properly, they will improve and improve.”

The visit to Morecambe is a return to familiar territory for Tom Barkhuizen.

He spent 18 months with the Shrimps, reigniting his career to some extent after it had stalled at Blackpool.

Barkhuizen scored 17 goals in 63 appearances for Jim Bentley’s men.

PNE swooped for him last November after the Shrimps hit financial difficulties.

He left them by mutual consent, Morecambe retaining the right to compensation.

His move to Deepdale was registered officially at the start of January when the transfer window opened.

Barkhuizen has looked sharp in both friendlies to date, scoring in both.

Declan Rudd, John Welsh, Calum Woods and Josh Harrop are likely to miss tonight’s game because of injury.