Alex Neil ready for first leg of Preston North End’s ‘Treble’ test against Sheff Utd
Alex Neil says Preston will have every chance of making the play-offs if they come out of a week of testing matches within touching distance of the top six.
PNE play third-placed Sheffield United at Deepdale tomorrow, before hosting Leeds on Tuesday night.
A week tomorrow, they go to West Bromwich Albion for Gentry Day.
It is a testing run to say the least, especially when a long injury list in thrown into the equation.
Brandon Barker became the latest player to be ruled out for the rest of the season due to a damaged hamstring.
The winger joins Andrew Hughes, Tom Barkhuizen, Josh Harrop and Billy Bodin in sitting out the campaign.
PNE boss Neil said: “We are playing three teams above us in the league, three teams who have done remarkably well this year.
“We need to take as many points from these games as we can – the first two games in particular, the points are as crucial for those two teams as they are for us.
“We’re three points away from the play-offs – if you had offered us that six-eight weeks ago we’d have snatched your hand off.
“Our sole focus is to attack this week as best we can to give ourselves the best chance to come out at the other end in a good position.
“If we come through the week within touching distance of the play-offs, we will have given ourselves a great opportunity to get in them.
“It is easier said than done but that is the aim.
“When we play at full tilt we are more than a match for these teams.
“Naturally if we have a few bodies missing, it is going to be more difficult.”
The odds are on an open contest, with PNE and United both in need of points from this Roses battle.
Said Neil: “I think Sheffield United need to win this game.
“Having lost their last game, like ourselves, the next one becomes important.
“They will definitely come here looking to win, they don’t know any other way.
“We are the same, we go out to win every game we play.”
There continues to be a queue outside the treatment room at Springfields, giving Neil some selection issues.
A best case scenario is that PNE have midfield trio Ben Pearson, Brad Potts and Alan Browne available.
Pearson was forced off with a tight hamstring in the closing minutes of last week’s defeat at Reading, a game which Potts and Browne both missed.
Said Neil: “We will take a view on Ben Pearson, we are hoping he could be available.
“Alan and Pottsy are in the same boat as Pearo, we hope they have a chance – we’ll see how it pans out.”