Keeping bulk of Preston North End squad together – and adding to it – is vital says Alex Neil

Alex Neil thinks Preston’s squad needs a ‘bit of help’ to turn this season’s play-off miss into a sustained push in the 2020/21 campaign.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 8:00 am

PNE boss Neil says there is the platform at Deepdale from which to go forward but new faces and retaining the bulk of the current squad will be needed to do that.

North End head to Bristol City tomorrow night for their final game of the season knowing the top six is beyond them – just two wins in the last 11 games has seen to that.

Although disappointed by that drop-off in form, Neil says there is potential for better with the right help.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Preston manager Alex Neil with the club’s leading scorer Daniel Johnson

Neil said: “I think there is a great platform to build from but I would have said that at the start of this season too.

“Is that platform still there? I would think it is.

“It is about making that next step, really pushing ourselves on.

“For that to happen I think we need a bit of help, I think the squad needs a bit of help.

“It has been difficult on occasions.

“It’s been well documented how many times we have flipped the top end of the pitch to find solutions.

“There have been a number of ways we have done that – moving Daniel Johnson further up the pitch this season has been a success.

“We want to try and retain the vast majority of this squad and add to it.

“Retaining players is really important. The bulk of this squad has been good enough to get us into a really good position in the league.

“It is important because of one disappointment we don’t let our hard work got to waste.

“If we want to compete we need to retain players.”

Neil admits the budget will not be at the level of a number of clubs in the division in terms of paying out huge transfer fees.

So the challenge is there to source players by other means.

“We’re not going to invest like other teams will, our model is different,” said Neil.

“We need to try and retain the ones who have got us to this level and then find others to kick us on to the next level without spending £5m, £6m, £7m, £8m on a player.

“It is not easy to do but it is something we need to try and do.”

Neil’s strong emphasis on the retention of the squad is bearing in mind a number of them have now entered the final year of their contracts.

Johnson, Ben Pearson, Ben Davies, Alan Browne, Darnell Fisher, Josh Harrop, Andrew Hughes, Paul Huntington and Sean Maguire are in that bracket.

Paul Gallagher signed a short-term deal to cover the rest of this extended season, and the midfielder’s future will need addressing with the squad back in pre-season training in less than a month.