Brad Potts and Alan Browne impressed PNE manager Alex Neil in Fulham win

Preston North End's Brad Potts
Preston North End's Brad Potts

Alex Neil felt his ‘running 10s’ were right on track in Preston’s win over Fulham after a disappointing show at QPR last week.

The PNE manager has used Alan Browne and Brad Potts as attacking midfielders in the last two games.

It was a partnership which worked well when Potts first joined North End in January but has been used sparingly this season.

Neil said: “How they played at QPR was one of my frustrations and I spoke with the lads about it.

“I didn’t think they did enough running for those roles.

“Alan was dropping too deep and trying to get involved in the link-up whereas his biggest strength is stretching the game and getting behind the opposition.

“But him and Pottsy did that role very well the other night, I was pleased with the way they play.”

Potts has started the last three games, his best run of the season.

He came back into the side for the West Bromwich Albion fixture, one which Browne played at right-back.

They were put together at QPR in a 4-1-4-1 system, one Neil used again on Tuesday night.

It’s been a frustrating campaign for Potts. Knee surgery meant last season ended for him in March.

He wanted to hit the ground running this season but missed part of pre-season when his knee flared up.

That has had a knock-on affect with him struggling to hold down a place.

Neil has played him in some of the big games – Leeds, Manchester City, West Brom and Fulham.

His recent chances have come with Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson sidelined.

Gallagher hasn’t played since the Hull defeat because of an Achilles tendon injury.

Johnson suffered a knee injury in the first-half of the West Brom game and played the full game.

But he missed the QPR and Fulham games and seems likely to miss today’s clash with Luton at Deepdale.

Neil, meanwhile, thinks the race for promotion and places in the play-offs will hot up at the end of January.

“I’ve been saying this since we were top of the league and on a good run that the key is to stay around the top six past January,” said Neil.

“I didn’t join Norwich until January 9 and they were 10th in the Championship.

“They only missed out on automatic promotion in the second to last game.

“When Fulham went up two years ago, they were miles behind at this stage.

“What you need to do is stay in touch, get the window shut at the end of January and then you’ve got to start hitting some good form.”