PNE boss demands quick start to September

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Alex Neil is looking for a fast start to September from his Preston side to build on their bright August.

PNE took eight points from five matches last month and now head into a burst of six games in three weeks.

Josh Harrop will be pushing for a start in the PNE side against Barnsley

Josh Harrop will be pushing for a start in the PNE side against Barnsley

The first of those comes against Barnsley tomorrow at Deepdale (3pm).

Neil sees the forthcoming schedule as similar to the one his players faced last month, in terms of its intensity.

Refreshed by the two-week international break, the North End boss is confident about what the squad can produce.

“This is very similar to the start of the season for us in that we go straight into a busy spell of games,” said Neil.

“We need to make sure we come out the other side intact and having accumulated as many points as we can.

“It will be intense for the players who are playing. It is one of those if you go on a good run you don’t want to change your starting team as they are clicking and doing well.

“Equally, you might want to try and freshen things up so you have to get the other lads ready and hungry to come in and do a job for a game here and there – and potentially to stake a claim to stay in the starting XI.”

Four of North End’s games in September are at Deepdale, both home matches to date this season having been won.

Maintaining a good home record throughout the month is something Neil is keen to happen.

He said: “Our home form has been very good, we have performed well here.

“We want to make sure that continues.

“This is the first of two home games on the bounce but our focus is on Barnsley because it’s the next one.”

Neil has the majority of his squad to choose from, those who have been on the fringes of late having had the chance to sharpen up in Tuesday’s Lancashire Senior Cup win over Burnley at Springfields.

Josh Harrop played an hour of the cup clash, having been a second-half sub in the 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough before the break.

The summer signing from Manchester United could get a start tomorrow, bearing in mind PNE are at Deepdale.

Harrop started the last home game before making way to Alan Browne for the trip to Boro.

Said Neil: “We got quite a lot of lads a god run-out.

“Paul Gallagher and John Welsh did 70 minutes, Josh Harrop played an hour.

“Callum Robinson played the full 90 minutes as his last start was at Derby – the same with Tommy Spurr – which was three weeks ago.

“We needed to top them up in terms of fitness.”

This will be striker Jordan Hugill’s first game since he handed in a transfer request ahead of the deadline.