Championship’s too tough to call says Preston North End boss Alex Neil ahead of Sheffield Wednesday’s visit

Sean Maguire is set to return to the PNE squad after suffering concussion against Swansea City
Sean Maguire is set to return to the PNE squad after suffering concussion against Swansea City

Alex Neil admits he does not really have an inkling as to who could be the team to beat in the Championship this season.

With four games gone, the campaign is very much in its infancy although one or two clubs are starting to flex their muscles.

Leeds United, Fulham, Swansea City and this weekend’s visitors to Deepdale Sheffield Wednesday are the teams that currently occupy the top four positions in the Championship.

But Neil believes there are plenty of teams capable of mounting a serious promotion challenge – including North End.

“I think what you have got is a few squads which have invested heavily and have got some really strong players,” said Neil.

“If you look at Fulham on Wednesday night, winning 4-0 and look at them in terms of what they have invested.

“Look at Stoke in terms of what they have invested. 
Huddersfield coming down – it will be interesting to see what happens with them.

“Cardiff look like they are starting to get going again.

“This division is one of the most exciting to be involved in.

“I don’t think at this moment in time anybody can say who is going to win it or who is going to struggle.

“It can really flip from game to game.

“I will be honest, I look at every fixture and think, ‘They should probably win’, but on any given day you can look at the fixtures and say every team that I fancied lost.”

The Owls head to Deepdale having won three and lost one of their opening four league fixtures.

However, they will come up against a side who have collected six points out of six in front of their own fans and scored six goals to boot. 
“Sheffield Wednesday have got good players first and foremost,” said Neil.

“I went to see them when they played Luton and, to be honest, Luton were better in the first half.

“It was one of those games where Luton were moving the ball better, their set-up was better in terms of retaining possession, but Wednesday always had a threat.

“With the players they have got on the pitch, they can score a goal at any time.”

Neil looks set to welcome back striker Sean Maguire into his squad after the Irishman suffered concussion against Swansea at the weekend.

However, captain Tom Clarke is doubtful after picking up a knee injury on Wednesday night in the 3-1 win over Stoke.

“Potentially, Tom Clarke looks like he’s going to be out,” said Neil. “But we are not 100% sure. Sometimes with things like that it can feel bad at the time, but actually eases off.”