Boss Alex Neil still has work to do with Preston North End frontline

Preston striker Sean Maguire in action against Newcastle United at Deepdale
Preston striker Sean Maguire in action against Newcastle United at Deepdale

Alex Neil says there will be a focus on Preston’s attacking play in training leading up to the season opener at Millwall.

The Lilywhites finished their pre-season programme with a 2-1 win over Newcastle at the weekend.

Both goals were penalties from Paul Gallagher and PNE did not create a hatful of chances.

So Neil wants to sharpen things up at that end of the pitch ready for the visit to The Den.

North End boss Neil told the Lancashire Post: “We had trained a lot last week on the back four squeezing the line, following the defeat to Southampton.

“That part of our game was much improved when we played Newcastle, I thought we defended very well and looked solid.

“We know we need to work on more front patterns now as much as anything to make sure we have that cutting edge.

“Against Newcastle our main threat came from set-pieces and we need more from open play when we attack.”

North End scored 14 goals in their eight friendly games in pre-season.

They won 2-0 against both Bamber Bridge and Cork City, then beat AFC Fylde 4-0. Neil’s men won 2-0 against Chorley before losing 3-1 to Southampton.

There was a 1-1 draw with Accrington then they lost 1-0 at Fleetwood on Friday night.

PNE’s attacking threat was blunted somewhat against the Magpies by the absences of wingers Billy Bodin and Josh Ginnelly.

Brad Potts got 90 minutes on the right wing in his quest for full fitness after missing a section of pre-season due to a knee injury.

Potts did not get into the game as much as North End would have liked, with him slightly out of position.

Leading the attack was Sean Maguire, with Potts and Tom Barkhuizen flanking him and Alan Browne behind in a 4-2-3-1.

At Fleetwood, the line had been led by Jayden Stockley.

David Nugent played off him, with the width coming from Graham Burke and Josh Harrop.

Providing Bodin proves his fitness – he hyper-extended his knee against Accrington was was no’t risked in the final two games – he seems likely to start on the right wing.

Bodin, 27, certainly looked the stand-out player in the first five friendlies, finding the net twice.

Nugent will need time to build up his fitness but showed promise in his 
first-half run at Fleetwood.