Alex Neil demanding a better start from Preston North End in Sunday’s noon kick-off at Charlton

Alex Neil wants Preston out of the blocks a lot quicker than they were against Blackburn in Sunday’s early kick-off at Charlton Athletic.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 6:00 am
Preston striker David Nugent was nursing an ankle problem last weekend

The PNE boss saw his side play catch-up against Rovers, recovering from going 2-0 down to win 3-2.

At The Valley it is a noon start in front of the Sky Sports cameras, Neil keen for a much better opening against the London outfit.

“We looked flat in the first half last week and we need to be better,” said Neil.

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“It was quite an intensive spell with three games in a week, the Leeds match was a high-intensity one.

“I’m not sure if that had an effect in the first half of the Blackburn game but we didn’t look ourselves.

“We flipped that on its head in the second half and played very well. With Charlton being on a Sunday, we were able to give the lads Monday off 
before starting our build-up.

“Sometimes in this league, rest and recovery can be more important than getting out training on the grass.

“There was a player who I left out of training on Tuesday because his numbers and high-intensity levels in games had been significantly higher than the others.

“It is important we look at the loads of each player and adjust their training. That is quite normal to do.”

PNE’s build-up to Sunday’s game will not be too different to normal.

It will be one meal rather than two ahead of kick-off and an earlier wake-up.

But as for everything else, it is ‘business as usual’ from Neil’s point of view.

For the fans the noon start has meant plenty of change, with travel plans disrupted for many by Sky selecting the game for live broadcast at short notice.

There will still be more than 1,000 of them making the trip though, superb support in the circumstances.

Said Neil: “We travel the day before anyway.

“We will have breakfast and pre-match in the same meal, that is pretty much the only difference.”

Neil has a relatively full squad to choose from, with Ben Davies set to return after missing the Blackburn game with an ankle injury.

David Nugent was held back on the bench last week, having had a swollen knee.

The striker would have been able to get through half-an-hour as a sub if necessary but in the end was not needed.

Explaining Davies’ injury, Neil said: “In the Leeds game he lunged to block a shot from Stuart Dallas and opened up the ankle joint a little bit.

“Functionally there
 wasn’t a lot wrong with the ankle but there was still some swelling.

“With quite a short time between games, the swelling didn’t go down enough.”