PNE manager Alex Neil hails his grafters ahead of final push

North End manager Alex Neil has praised his squad's effort
North End manager Alex Neil has praised his squad's effort

Alex Neil has saluted the effort Preston have put into their play-off push which reaches a critical stage today.

Get all your latest Lancashire Post sports news by following @LP_Sport on Twitter

While the Lilywhites are one of the outsiders in the race for the top six, Neil says that is not for the want of trying.

If they were to fall short, it would be down to not quite having the necessary quality rather than a lack of graft.

North End hit the road for their final league away game at Sheffield United today.

Victory in Yorkshire could, depending on other results, take their play-off push into the final game against Burton at Deepdale a week tomorrow.

PNE boss Neil said: “What I can say is that we are trying our very best to get there.

“It certainly isn’t through a lack of effort or a work ethic that we were not in there at the moment.

“I might have made bad decisions here and there over the piece but I have tried to make sure I make the right choices and looked into things in real detail to make sure I’m making the best logical decisions.

“When opportunities have come along, the players might not have put them in the net or they might have missed out on a header when defending, but that is part and parcel of the game of football.

“We have a collection of really honest, hard-working people who have done their best this year.

“If we do come up short and not make it, I think we can be proud of the amount of effort.

“All I can ask of anybody is for them to do their best.

“Hand on heart, I can say that everybody who has been on my team has given me their best.”

Neil is hoping North End can have something riding on next Sunday’s clash against Burton at Deepdale.

For that to happen, they need to beat the Blades this afternoon and hope Derby and Middlesbrough both lose.

Whether or not things go North End’s way this week and next, Neil will look back over the season at key moments.

“When a team gets promoted, you look back on key games which got you there,” said Neil.

“It might be a game where you nick a 91st-minute winner or you hold on and scrap a game out.

“From my time at Norwich, I can rhyme off five or six games like that.

“If it happens the other way and you don’t make it, there will be games you look at and think what might have been.

“That is football, it is not one decision which gets you there, it’s all the mini decisions across the season.

“It is not major surgery or doing anything revolutionary which we need here, it is just getting those little bits right more often than not.

“Hopefully we can win today and take things into the Burton game.”