Alex Neil reveals his derby dream for Preston North End

Alex Neil wants another taste of derby joy when he takes Preston to Bolton tomorrow.

The PNE manager regards last season’s 3-1 victory over Wanderers as one of the high points of his time in charge.

Preston boss Alex Neil after last season's win at Bolton Wanderers

Preston boss Alex Neil after last season's win at Bolton Wanderers

That visit last March was Gentry Day, with North End coming back from a goal down to win comfortably.

More of the same in front of 4,500 travelling supporters would be greatly appreciated by Neil.

“I would say that last year was one of my favourite games since I’ve been here,” Neil said.

“Maybe it was because it was Gentry Day which I hadn’t heard of before I joined.

“But with people having their bowler hats on, with how the lads performed, how the subs made an impact, with Sean Maguire scoring his goals and Josh Harrop playing well, it just made for a great day.

“I’m really hoping we can replicate that this time.

“I put a hat on myself after the game – I know that I’m very serious but when we have won there’s a five-minute window where I can enjoy myself!

“This one being a derby helps and we’ll have a lot of fans there.

“Our away fans are terrific and very vocal.

“We went to Stoke and QPR in the last couple of games and our supporters were all you could hear in the stadium.”

Neil thinks the North End players and himself enjoy a strong connection with the fans, which gives him a great deal of job satisfaction.

Putting together a strong run of results over the next few weeks – Neil’s challenge to his squad – could only help to further strengthen the bond.

Said Neil: “I enjoy my work here as much as I have enjoyed working at any club.

“Before I came here I didn’t know what Preston was like, I didn’t know the people.

“But I couldn’t have picked a better club which is suited to me – the people here and the way we go about things.

“I think football has lost that working-man type of connection with fans but I don’t think we have lost it here.

“Our fans feel a connection with the players, they know where we are as a club and are all pushing in one direction.

“Sometimes in football there is a disconnect because of how much players get paid, where they have come from and maybe even who they think they are.

“Our lads are humble, they have come from difficult or lower levels and worked their way up.”

Neil will have to change his back-up keeper on the bench tomorrow.

Connor Ripley damaged an ankle ligament in a midweek bounce game and is facing a long spell on the sidelines.

Plans to loan out Michael Crowe to League of Ireland side Waterford United have been scrapped and he will be in the squad tomorrow.