PNE boss Alex Neil admits Darnell Fisher was close to selection but fixture list played its part
Alex Neil admitted he considered starting Darnell Fisher against Millwall on Saturday but rested him with fixture congestion in mind.
Fisher had been struggling with a slight hamstring injury, but it was not serious enough to keep him out of the side in the lead-up to Saturday’s game, as he has started and finished in the wins over Wigan Athletic and Stoke City.
North End captain Tom Clarke stepped into the breach against Millwall, a controversial choice amongst fans of late.
Neil expects Fisher to be ready for this weekend with Hull City travelling to Deepdale on Saturday.
“I considered playing him,” said Neil. “I just felt that his hamstring had been aggravated over the last two games and with three in a week at the moment, it’s catching up with him a little bit.
“I thought Tom Clarke was tailor-made for the game as well, with his height and size.
“We knew they were going to be a presence from set-plays and they were. I thought Tom had a good solid game.”
Neil also explained his thinking behind starting with Paul Gallagher on the bench, after he played a part in both goals against Stoke City last Wednesday.
Up against another sizeable outfit, it would have made sense to have seen Saturday as another opportunity for Gallagher to put his stamp on possession.
But Neil said he had a bigger picture in mind. He said: “I was tempted to start him.
“Bearing in mind the conditions that were coming, and bearing in mind that they had energy in the middle of the pitch with Ryan Woods and Jayson Molumby. They like to rat about and turn the ball and make it difficult.
“I do always feel that Gally, when he comes on, normally had a big impact in games.
“Saturday was probably one of those rare occasions where we struggled to get him on the ball and get the quality that we know he has, and that’s why I thought their shape counteracted our shape and got the better of it.
“Sometimes that can happen for a variety of different reasons. The weather played a part in that, it didn’t stick enough at the top end as the game wore on and that made it difficult for us.
“I’m not going to make any excuses. We lost the game 1-0 on a set-play.
“They had chances in the second half and they looked more likely to score than us in the second half and they won the game.”