Easter derby clash – Preston boss Alex Neil has targeted a win double over the Bank holiday weekend

Preston manager Alex Neil is anticipating a full-blooded clash with Wigan today as he targets a second Easter win.

Monday, 22nd April 2019, 6:00 am
Preston North End's Darnell Fisher

The Lilywhites won 4-0 against Ipswich Town on Good Friday to get the weekend off to a good start.

At the same time, Wigan beat Leeds 2-1 with 10 men to give their survival chances a massive boost.

So there is plenty to play for at the DW Stadium (3pm), with another sizeable away support following PNE down the M6.

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Neil said: “We will go there to try and win the game as we always do.

“On Friday, Wigan had an unbelievable result against Leeds – they went down to 10 men, let in a goal, conceded a penalty which was saved and went on to win 2-1.

“When we played them at our place, we went 2-0 up and they went really aggressive.

“That left us with space to hurt them which we did with two more goals.

“But if you don’t take your chance to hurt them, they commit enough men forward to damage you.”

In light of Friday’s victory, Neil is likely to stick closely to the side which faced Ipswich.

That could mean Darnell Fisher playing at left-back again to accommodate Joe Rafferty at right-back.

Rafferty made his first PNE start against Ipswich since signing from Rochdale in the January transfer window.

Neil said: “Joe can play as a left-back but I have known Darnell for quite a while.

“I saw him play against my Norwich team as a left-back and he was very good and had every confidence he could do a good job.

“I didn’t want to put Joe in for his full debut in a position which was a little bit foreign to him, I didn’t think that would be fair on him.

“Joe did well but he didn’t really have anyone up against him – Alan Judge played on that side but drifted inside.”

Rafferty’s inclusion and the move to left-back for Fisher saw Josh Earl dropped to the bench on Friday.

Neil said: “People have to remember that Josh is a young lad, he is an unbelievable talent and will be a very good left-back at this club.

“We have to give the lad time and he came into the team for our toughest week of the season.”

Alan Browne wasn’t in the squad on Friday, Neil saying he hasn’t fully recovered from the ankle ligament damage he sustained at Middlesbrough.

“He’s not been quite right since he came back,” said Neil.

“We had that big week of games and we tried to get our key players on the pitch.

“Alan probably didn’t do himself justice so we’ve taken him out until he is ready.”

Josh Harrop returned to training yesterday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured cruciate ligament.