Barnsley caught the eye of Preston North End boss Alex Neil in battling draw

Cauley Woodrow (right) after scoring in the 3-1 home defeat by Brentford on Sunday
Cauley Woodrow (right) after scoring in the 3-1 home defeat by Brentford on Sunday

Preston boss Alex Neil took the chance to pay a personal visit to Barnsley in midweek to run the rule over tomorrow’s visitors to Deepdale.

The Tykes drew 2-2 with Derby County on Wednesday night, Neil making the trip to Oakwell with Peter Ridsdale.

It is a ground which he is more than familiar with, the Scotsman having had four years as a player at Barnsley.

Although the Yorkshire outfit are in the bottom three of the table and have not won since the opening day of the season, Neil thinks his former club have plenty to offer.

“They are quite aggressive in terms of how they play going forward,” said Neil.

“Barnsley have got a lot of rotations at the top end of the pitch.

“They have some good wide players, whoever plays.

“Malik Wilks and Luke Thomas didn’t start against Derby but came on later, they have both been decent.

“Cauley Woodrow has had a good start, then they’ve got the wee boy Conor Chaplin playing off him.

“The average age of their team at the moment is about 23, they are relatively young.

“As the season goes on they will get more exposure to the Championship and that will help them develop.

“In the summer their squad changed quite a lot.

“Barnsley’s business model is to get young players in, try to develop them and move them on for a profit if they can.

“If they can keep hold of them for long enough, then they hope for a successful season.

“That’s not too dissimilar to ourselves in certain aspects.”

Neil admits he was on his way back to the motorway when Barnsley scored their 95th-minute equaliser against Derby.

Woodrow popped up to make it 2-2 and put a sixth league point on the board.

Said Neil: “We didn’t stay until the end, we watched 85 minutes or so.

“If you stay until the 95th minute they block the car park off for an hour which means we wouldn’t be getting home until 1am.

“We shipped out for the last little bit. I could actually smell that a goal was coming.

“I said to Peter as we left that the game had another goal left in it.”

Barnsley made 13 signings in the summer but lost eight players, some of who had been key figures in their promotion from League One.

With a new-look squad in place, Neil thinks Barnsley’s priority will be staying in the Championship.

“When a team comes up your first port of call is to stay in the league,” said Neil. “Make sure you are still in the division for next season then you can grow, recruit, get better players in.”

Woodrow’s late equaliser in midweek was his third goal of the season.

On loan with the Tykes from Fulham last season, he made the move permanent in July for an undisclosed fee.

Another summer buy was Wilks from Leeds, the winger playing against North End for Doncaster – where he was 
on loan – in the FA Cup in January.