North End can stay at the top says boss

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Alex Neil has every confidence Preston can stay in the mix in the upper reaches of the Championship this season.

A dozen games in, the North End boss thinks his side has moved beyond the ‘good start’ mark and deserve to be taken seriously.

Josh Harrop (above) could replace Sean Maguire against Wolves

Josh Harrop (above) could replace Sean Maguire against Wolves

The next test of that claim comes against leaders Wolves at Molineux tomorrow.

It is the second time this campaign Neil’s men have faced a side who are top of the table, Cardiff having been at the summit when they came to Deepdale last month.

Neil said: “We don’t see it as having an encouraging start or a bright start.

“What we say is that we are playing well and we are going to try and win all the games.

“We fancy our chances in each and every game, we are performing well and believe in what we are doing. What happens is that some people on the outside of us don’t 
understand our inner workings – what we are doing day in, day out.

“I’m pretty sure if they come and have a look, they would be more confident in the group of players we have.”

PNE head to the Midlands on the back of last week’s 2-2 draw at Fulham, a game which they were denied 
victory with almost the last kick of the game.

The frustration of that is something Neil thinks can be used to inspire a good display at Wolves.

Said Neil: “The players were gutted after Fulham but they have to deal with that.

“When I spoke with the lads on Monday to go through the game and analyse it, I told them to use the frustration and disappointment as fuel for the next one.

“With the group we have got, it makes us hungrier to go and put it right.”

PNE’s main fitness issue surrounds Sean Maguire who limped off against Fulham with hamstring trouble.

If tomorrow comes too soon for him, Josh Harrop is his probable replacement.

It was Harrop who came off the bench to take Maguire’s place at Craven Cottage.

Darnell Fisher returns to the squad after suspension and is likely to go straight back into the team.

Neil is looking forward to the challenge which Wolves will pose on their home turf.

“I commented last week that Fulham, Wolves and Brentford are similar sides in that they like to retain the ball and move it,” said Neil.

“They are possession-based teams who build through the thirds and try to take the ball through you.

“To be honest, that might suit us down to the ground.

“The Fulham manager said after last week’s game that we are one of the best teams at getting the ball back.”

Tickets for tomorrow’s game remain on sale until this afternoon at Deepdale.