Alex Neil salutes his 'best yet' Preston North End squad

Jayden Stockley and Paul Gallagher after Preston's win at Charlton
Jayden Stockley and Paul Gallagher after Preston's win at Charlton

Alex Neil believes the current Preston North End squad is the best he’s had in his time in charge at Deepdale.

That view is being borne out by the Lilywhites’ lofty placing in the Championship table. After an impressive run at home, Neil’s men gave their away form a boost with the 1-0 win over Charlton at The Valley on Sunday.

Preston manager Alex Neil gives Sean Maguire a hug after the win at Charlton

Preston manager Alex Neil gives Sean Maguire a hug after the win at Charlton

It was only the second victory on the road in the league this season, with the other at Birmingham in September.

“We have the best squad I have worked with since I’ve been at Preston,” said Neil.

“We have matured as a squad, we have added size and power in certain areas which we maybe didn’t have before.

“Patrick Bauer coming in has been a key signing for us, Jayden Stockley has been key in certain games albeit he has not played all the time.

Alex Neil watches on from the technical area at The Valley

Alex Neil watches on from the technical area at The Valley

“It is good to have options and the younger lads I’ve had for more than two years are getting better and better with every game they play.

“If you can keep a group of lads together and they know your methods, that helps.

“When I’m on the training pitch and I talk about how we are going to set-up against a certain shape, they just fall into their shape without a word, they know exactly how they are working.

“That is why modern-day football is so silly nowadays.

“You give any manager time and I think they will always do well. That is why back in the days, guys like Sir Alex Ferguson were successful.

“They got the time to put their print on things and thankfully I have got that here.”

Neil had words of praise for centre-forward Stockley who led the line with a tireless display at Charlton.

Stockley had a proper battle with Jason Pearce who was up against him and it was the Addicks skipper fouling the PNE man which led to Paul Gallagher scoring the winner from the penalty spot.

Said Neil: “Jayden was in the team based on what he did when he came on last week against Blackburn.

“He’s been in great form for these two games.

“I said after the Blackburn match that Jayden needed that performance and what he did was to carry that into the Charlton game.

“By his own admission, earlier in the season he didn’t do as well as what he is capable of.”

Stockley’s start was only his second in a league game this season, the other being in the 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday.