Alex Neil explains his team selection for Preston North End's defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup

Preston North End manager Alex Neil said he took fitness issues and the upcoming schedule into consideration when selecting the team to play Manchester City last night.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 9:02 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 10:02 am
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The PNE team showed six changes to the one which has won at Birmingham in their previous game.

Ben Pearson, Patrick Bauer, Sean Maguire, Paul Gallagher, Andrew Hughes and Declan Rudd were all rested - only goalkeeper Rudd making the bench.

Pearson was a fitness concern after recently suffering a virus, while Hughes only returned from a hamstring injury at Birmingham - two games in a few days wouldn't have been ideal.

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Preston manager Alex Neil gives instructions during the game against Manchester City

North End were beaten 3-0 by City in front of a sell-out 22,025 crowd, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scoring, before Ryan Ledson deflected a David Silva cross into his own net.

All three goals came in the first half, with Josh Harrop hitting the post in the second half.

Neil said: "We have rotated and managed the squad well so far this season.

"I was happy with my team selection, the lads who were out was because of a variety of reasons.

"Pearo has had a virus which is an issue for him and we have three big games coming up in the space of a week.

"Patrick Bauer's hamstrings are a bit tight, Gally is 35 and played in 27 degree heat on Saturday.

"Hughesy wasn't going to make a second game and Sean is always a concern in terms of his hamstrings - he's in full flow at the moment and want that to continue.

"We had to get the balance right between lads who deserved to play, conserving a few for Saturday because the league is our bread and butter.

"Regardless of if we played our strongest team or whether we don't, to beat Man City at any point is going to be extremely difficult. I have to balance that."

Neil stressed it wasn't a case of him being over-protective with those he left out.

"There were a couple who couldn't have played anyway, it wasn't a case of me deciding to leave them out," said Neil.

"I had to weigh up what we were going to get out of this game, what is coming at the weekend and that we have another game next Tuesday and then Saturday again.

"We have a decent sized squad but we have some guys there who are really relied on in certain games so we had to make sure. We made a smart decision I think."