Patched-up Preston North End delight Alex Neil after extending unbeaten run with Middlesbrough draw

Alex Neil praised his patched up Preston North End squad after they went nine games unbeaten in the Championship.

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The Lilywhites drew 1-1 with Middlesbrough at Deepdale last night, Alan Browne’s sweet strike just before half-time being cancelled out by Marcus Tavernier’s goal 55 seconds after the interval.

Brandon Barker was handed a start against Middlesbrough in the absence of Callum Robinson

Brandon Barker was handed a start against Middlesbrough in the absence of Callum Robinson

Ben Davies missing out with a knock added to the PNE boss’ ever-increasing injury list with the 18 players in the match-day squad all the senior players Neil had available to him.

That included Calum Woods who was back on the bench having not featured since limping off against Morecambe in the League Cup back in August.

“The next person on the bench is probably one of the staff,” Neil said.

“We haven’t got any players left really.

Louis Moult led the line with Lukas Nmecha on the bench

Louis Moult led the line with Lukas Nmecha on the bench

“We had young Jack Baxter in the squad and he did the warm-up and in terms of having fully fit players we’re stretched to the maximum.

“We haven’t got any other senior pros who could have been involved in the squad.

“We had six first-team players missing and five of those normally start.

“If you do that to any team they’d do remarkably well to cope as well as we have.

“We’re doing well just now.

“We’re happy with how we’re performing and we just need to keep it up.”

As well as Davies, Callum Robinson’s lengthy absence after suffering a torn hamstring began against Boro.

In came Jordan Storey and Brandon Barker with Louis Moult replacing Lukas Nmecha up top as he dropped to the bench.

“We had two young kids playing in the back four and Josh Earl and Jordan Storey showed real character and balls to fight hard for us against a big team,” said Neil.

“Jordan, Louis Moult and Brandon Barker came in and they all hadn’t played a lot of football but they played well for us.

“People like Brandon have been waiting for their opportunity but that’s because Callum Robinson has been so good.

“Paul Huntington and Ben Davies have been a great partnership for us over the last eight matches but Jordan stepped up to the plate.

“I said in the summer we’d added strength in depth to our squad and that any player who could come in could do a job for us and that was showcased here.

“We’ve got real competition for places when everyone’s fit but unfortunately we’re really stretched.”

Neil is expecting that unlike others, Davies’ absence is a temporary one with a trip to Birmingham next up on Saturday as North End look to take their unbeaten run in double figures.

“I’m hopeful that he’ll stand a chance on Saturday and we’ll see how he goes,” the PNE boss said.