‘Play-off place is in your own hands’ Alex Neil tells his Preston North End players
Alex Neil has told his Preston players to seize the moment in their bid to make the play-offs.
PNE’s clash at Deepdale with Queens Park Rangers tomorrow (3pm) is the start of a 10-game run-in which will determine where they finish.
They occupy sixth place and Neil’s line of thinking is straightforward – win more than the teams below and a play-off slot is theirs.
The QPR game follows defeats to West Bromwich Albion and Fulham, and North End boss Neil has urged his players to look forward and not back.
Neil said: “QPR tomorrow will be a different game.
“We will look at their strengths and weaknesses, and we’ll put a team out to give us the best chance of winning.
“It doesn’t matter what the result of the last game was or how we played. It’s solely about this next game, this is the one we are aiming to win.
“We are down to the last 10 games now. This is when players have to take their own stuff and park it because there is a bigger picture now.
“Everyone is going to benefit if we get into the play-offs.
“This is a determined group and I know the lads want to do well – that never concerns me.
“I don’t ever stand on the touchline and think they aren’t up for it.
“We will play well on some occasions and not so well on others but never do I have to question their application or effort.”
PNE hold a two-point lead over Bristol City in seventh, while above them, Brentford are a point better off and Nottingham Forest four points ahead.
With all the sides in the chasing pack having games against promotion rivals over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of twists and turns to come. Said Neil: “We are two points away from our nearest challenger, so if we win more games than the teams below us, we end-up in the play-offs.
“It is in our hands and we want to keep it that way.
“We have played the top three home and away and we’ve got the rest to play.”
Jayden Stockley, Scott Sinclair and Josh Harrop will be knocking at the door to get into the team.
Those three provide the main forward alternatives should Neil choose to change things around to get Preston back among the goals.
Stockley’s last league start came in the reverse fixture with QPR in London three months ago, although he did start the FA Cup defeat to Norwich in January.
Neil has preferred to use the big striker as an impact player from the bench.
Midfield talisman Paul Gallagher will be back in the squad after illness kept him out against Fulham.