PNE boss getting ready for Easter clashes with Sheffield Wednesday and Derby

Republic of Ireland's Shane Duffy (left), Preston's Alan Browne (centre) and Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman (right) duringthe  warm-up before the international friendly match against Turkey at the Antalya Stadium.
Republic of Ireland's Shane Duffy (left), Preston's Alan Browne (centre) and Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman (right) duringthe warm-up before the international friendly match against Turkey at the Antalya Stadium.

Preston manager Alex Neil is looking forward to getting his teeth into the preparations for the Lilywhites’ Easter games which will be key in their push for the play-offs.

Neil takes his team to play Sheffield Wednesday on Good Friday, before hosting Derby at Deepdale in a televised clash next Monday lunchtime.

Last week’s training was more a case of keeping the players ticking over, with PNE without five players who were on international duty.

The Irish contingent of Sean Maguire, Alan Browne and Daryl Horgan were due back at Springfields today as the intensity began to build-up ahead of the Easter games.

Neil told the Post: “Shaping and tactical sessions are what I enjoy more than anything.

“I enjoying prepping for the games and working out the best approach.

“Last week was more about doing ticking over sessions.

“We had five guys away on international duty while it was a chance for anyone with wee knocks and niggles to rest and heal up.

“There was also a bounce game set up for some of the guys to get minutes.

“This week all the focus will be on getting ready for the Sheffield Wednesday game.

“We are working today and tomorrow, off Wednesday and then back in Thursday ready to play Friday.

“Then over the weekend it will be all about preparing for Derby on Monday.”

Two players, Billy Bodin and Chris Maxwell, won’t be with the squad until later in the week.

The pair are with the Wales squad in China, competing for the China Cup.

Wales play Uruguay in the final this afternoon, having beaten hosts China 6-0 last Thursday – a game Bodin and Maxwell were both unused substitutes in.

Said Neil: “It is not ideal with them being so far away but I don’t want to stop any player representing their country.

“This is Billy’s first call-up and only the second time Maxi has been in.”

On the international front, Maguire, Browne and Horgan all saw action for the Republic of Ireland against Turkey last Friday.

Maguire and Browne both started the 1-0 defeat, while Horgan came on as a sub for the last 15 minutes.

Those were first starts for Maguire and Browne after they had been capped once as substitutes.

They played 62 and 67 minutes respectively and in Maguire’s case it was another chance to pick-up some match sharpness after the striker’s recent return from surgery.

Meanwhile, young PNE front man Connor Simpson made his debut for Lancaster in their 1-1 draw with Stafford on Saturday. He has joined them on loan until April 28.