Frankie McAvoy pays tribute to his Preston North End players

Frankie McAvoy was delighted to see Preston North End secure their Championship status with room to spare.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 8:00 am

The 1-0 win over Coventry at St Andrew’s ensured PNE will be playing for a seventh season at this level.

McAvoy could not really say if the target was achieved on schedule or ahead of it but the fact is it was done with two more games to be played.

Alan Browne scored the winner from the penalty spot after Ched Evans had been fouled by Sky Blues keeper Ben Wilson.

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PNE skipper Alan Browne is congratulated by Emil Riis after scoring the winner at Coventry

Victory lifted North End to 14th place in the table, with them now on 55 points – 11 of those have come since McAvoy was given the interim head coach role at Deepdale.

McAvoy told the Lancashire Post: “I never gave the lads any targets in terms of you need 10 points, nine points, eight points or whatever. What I said to them was we will try and get as many points as we can.

“Our aim was to get the best formation which we thought would give us the platform to go and win as many points.

“We started off well and then Brentford came and did a job on us.

“Since then I’ve worked hard with Steve Thompson, Paul Gallagher, Mike Pollitt and the analysts to get us back to being as solid as we can to give us a bit of a platform.

“Are we ahead of schedule in getting safe? I don’t really know because I didn’t set any points target.

“The job was to be safe and secure in the Championship for next season.

“We are 14th now so lets’s see where the next two games take us.”

McAvoy says the squad and himself have to accept their share of the blame for being down in a relegation scrap to start with – that is something he will not shy away from. When Alex Neil was sacked on March 21, PNE had taken one point from their previous five games.

Said McAvoy: “Listen, all of us didn’t do well enough before, we were all partyto that. We didn’t do well enough and that culminated in Alex moving on.

“What we then needed to do was change it and try to make sure we could get up the league and away from a relegation dogfight.

“We’ve done that and we deserve a wee bit of credit.”

McAvoy brought in Sean Maguire against Coventry, replacing Greg Cunningham, who dropped to the bench.

The interim head coach said: “Greg had been out for a few weeks and then played Saturday and Tuesday.

“He just said to me he felt a bit stiff, not 100%. That is all I want from players, if they are not 100% tell me and we can change things to fix it.

“We brought in Seani and moved Tom Barkhuizen to wing-back for his legs.”