Here we go...Alex Neil cannot wait to get started as Preston North End get back in action today

Preston North End manager Alex Neil is pleased to have reached the season’s restart after all the uncertainty during football’s shutdown.

Saturday, 20th June 2020, 8:00 am

Neil’s men face Luton at Kenilworth Road today, all games for the remainder of the season being played behind closed doors.

It is PNE’s first competitive slice of action since March 7 and their focus is trained on getting the points needed to book a play-off place.

Since then there was all the speculation about whether the season would resume and how players could train once it was decided to play to a finish in the Championship and Premier League.

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North End manager Alex Neil

Neil said: “When you are a footballer the whole build-up and talk is the bit you don’t enjoy.

“If you are a fan or part of the media, the build-up is there to be enjoyed and written about.

“For the players, they just want to get out there and play the games.

“Boxers will tell you the same thing. They prepare for six weeks but all they want to do is get in the ring.”

PNE’s return to training has been guided by club doctor Dominic Lakeland.

He has helped put protocol in place to help minimise the risk of Covid-19.

Neil said: “As a club we have followed the medical advice all the way through.

“The doctor has been a really prominent figure in everything we have done.

“Any fears which the lads have had, have been relayed to him. He has been able to give them information and give them peace of mind.

“I don’t necessarily think the players fear for themselves, I think they fear for their loved ones and their families – they don’t want to be a carrier or a burden.”

Neil points to footballers working exclusively outside as a key to preventing the spread of Covid-19 within the sport.

“We haven’t used the changing rooms at all since we came back,” said Neil.

“The doctor informs us that the likelihood of catching the virus outdoors is highly unlikely.

“When you breathe and cough it goes into the air and goes away.

“What we have been told is that you need to be in close proximity with someone for 15 minutes to catch it.

“Research has shown that in a football game if you are playing 93, 94 or 95 minutes, your maximum contact with someone would be about four minutes.

“That is one of the main reasons why football has made the progress it has.

“The rules for how we do things change from phase to phase of training,

“We’ve gone from phase one to phase two to phase three quickly and followed the advice.”