Former PNE goalie Alan Kelly believes play-offs are within reach for Preston – once season re-starts

Former Preston goalkeeper and keeping coach Alan Kelly is confident the Lilywhites can secure a play-off slot when the season eventually resumes.

Saturday, 28th March 2020, 6:00 am

Kelly played 164 times for PNE and spent four years on the coaching staff.

The 51-year-old is now Everton’s keeper coach but keeps a close eye on his home-town club and has seen a number of games this season.

“It’s been a fantastic season so far for Preston,” Kelly told the Lancashire Post.

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Alan Kelly

“They’ve had a couple of blips where they didn’t win for a few games but the Championship being the Championship, means no one has really taken advantage.

“The top-two is probably out of reach now but cementing a play-off place is something I think they would expect to do rather than just have aspirations of doing.

“The manager, players, fans and the club will have an expectation.”

North End are two weeks into football’s indefinite shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Football is suspended until April 30 but it could well into the summer when the league programme can resume.

There are nine games of the regular season remaining, with the EFL also having the play-offs to fit in.

However long the break in the fixture list extends, Kelly thinks players at all clubs will come back in good shape.

Kelly said: “When we are finally able to resume, clubs will be playing a mini-season.

“It’s unprecedented, no one knows how long it is going to be before we come back.

“Players, managers and coaches everywhere are in the same boat in having to deal with this break.

“In the modern game, players have always ticked over and kept themselves fit when there has been a break in the season or during the summer holidays.

“They have everything to help them keep fit, whether that be data-tracking, spin bikes or weights equipment.

“That will keep them physically fit, the other side of it is ‘football fit’.

“Getting football fit is what will need the work when they are allowed back to training.

“You can have the best pre-season possible, have the best running stats, but it is different when you get out there on the pitch.

“Suddenly you realise being football fit is very different.

“With fitness and health, all players these days knows what is required of them.

“There is so much education for them now about nutrition, hydration, upper body strength, lower body strength.

“All the information is given to them and that is why they are in such good condition, they are top-class athletes.”