Neil warns PNE players to stay on the right side of refs

Alan Browne misses PNE's game against Brentford through suspension
Alan Browne misses PNE's game against Brentford through suspension
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Alex Neil has warned Preston to cut out the unnecessary bookings in order to minimise the risk of suspensions.

The Lilywhites are top of the ‘naughty boys’ league in the Championship – they have 144 disciplinary points in the FA’s Fair Play table.

They have accumulated 31 yellow cards and two red in 14 league and cup matches this season.

North End boss Neil told the Post: “I think it is a case of reining in the cards, in terms of making sure they are not for anything stupid.

“If it is a challenge and you need to go for the ball, by all means make it – you shouldn’t have that in your head.

“But equally you can’t be shouting your mouth off or behaving in an inappropriate manner if you are one booking away from suspension.

“I think then you are solely letting your team down if you do that.”

PNE are without Alan Browne for today’s clash with Brentford at Deepdale after he was sent off at Wolves.

That dismissal was for two bookings for challenges, the second as the midfielder tried to stop a Wolves breakaway.

North End’s other red card this term was Ben Pearson’s at Leeds in August, again for two fouls.

Three players are having to watch their step at present in light of being a caution away from a one-match ban.

Daniel Johnson, skipper Paul Huntington and Jordan Hugill are on four yellow cards and the amnesty for five is not until the end of November in the Football League.

Neil does think that PNE’s high-pressing game will mean that bookings will be received.

He said: “The manner in which we play a high-intensity game means players will pick up yellow cards.

“When you try and nick the ball high up, sometimes you aren’t going to get it right and you get a booking.

“They are part and parcel of the game, it is the ones for dissent that are unnecessary.”

Meanwhile, Neil says the importance of Pearson’s role as a sitting midfielder, cannot be stressed enough.

Pearson fills one of the two deeper midfield roles, one of his jobs to make sure Preston maintain their shape.

Said Neil: “Because we have so many attack-minded lads, Ben’s task is to make sure we are secure behind the ball.

“He can build the play for us too from that position.

“The way the modern game is, with the counter-attack a big part of many teams’ style, you need someone who sits to snuff that threat out.

“We want to commit a lot of men forward but it is vital to have the right numbers 
behind the ball too.

“Ben helps us do that and he is very good at it.

“He has the ability to break forward if needs be – we have seen that in certain games.”