Alex Neil concentrating on Preston North End’s approach and less on Reading’s

Andrew Hughes is set to return to the Preston squad against Reading
Andrew Hughes is set to return to the Preston squad against Reading

Alex Neil has fixed his focus on Preston’s approach to their visit to Reading tomorrow rather than try and second guess new Royals manager Mark Bowen.

Neil is a stickler for doing his homework on North End’s opponents, spending hours studying their play.

And while Reading will be thoroughly researched ready for the Madejski Stadium clash, Bowen’s appointment this week makes it something of a trip into the unknown.

PNE boss Neil said: “What has happened at Reading has altered things slightly.

“We will focus less on them and more on us. There have been other times when we’ve taken that approach.

“There are certain teams who don’t have much detail, so our focus is on how we are going to play.

“Other teams have a lot of detail so I will focus more on them than I might do on us.

“The way we play our lads are used to, even if I tweak things week to week.

“But we work hard on what we do, we make sure everyone knows their job.”

Reading called time on the reign of José Gomes early in the international break after two wins in 11 league games.

His replacement Bowen had been the Royals’ sporting director since August and was initially tasked with helping find Gomes’ successor.

But he then was approached by the club’s owner to take the manager’s job.

Said Neil: “I don’t know how involved Mark was in terms of work on the grass.

“From club to club it differs what the role of a technical or sporting director is.

“Some are heavily involved in recruitment, others are more involved in logistics, some might be stood by the side of the pitch in a tracksuit.”

Neil is looking forward to being back in action following the international break and will have decent numbers to select from.

Andrew Hughes will be back in the squad after being absent for much of the season.

He damaged his hamstring in the second league game and returned to play in the 1-0 win at Birmingham last month.

The left-back suffered a hip flexor injury in that game and has been ruled out since.

Hughes came through a bounce game last week and has been training since.

He could face a fight for his place though, Joe Rafferty having stood in effectively.

The option is there, though, to move Rafferty back to his normal right-back role.

Darnell Fisher is available after serving a one-game ban but Tom Clarke’s absence with a knee injury will be a couple of weeks longer.

The skipper was due back about now but felt discomfort in the knee during last week’s bounce game. It is not the same injury but is in the same area of the knee.