Let’s give it a right go: Preston take on Premier League champions Manchester City

Preston striker Sean Maguire has scored in successive games
Preston striker Sean Maguire has scored in successive games

Alex Neil says Preston won’t be there to merely make up the numbers when Manchester City come to Deepdale in the Carabao Cup tonight.

Although the Lilywhites will start as big underdogs against Pep Guardiola’s men, Neil wants to see his side give themselves a fighting chance of causing a cup upset.

In front of a packed house, North End boss Neil hopes it can be a memorable night.

Neil said: “We won’t be rocking up to shake Pep’s hand and say ‘Thank you very much for coming to Deepdale’.

“We are going to give it a good go and see how we get on.

“Norwich won against them last week, Wigan beat them in the FA Cup a couple of years ago, it’s not impossible.

“It can be done although it is not a regular occurrence.

“For that to happen, City will have to have an off night and we are going to have to play very well, be diligent and hard-working.

“If we do get opportunities we will have to be very clinical.

“Should there be a perfect combination of such variables for us, we can win the game.

“It is going to be a really tough test, Manchester City are the champions of England.

“At the moment City and Liverpool are so far ahead of the rest.

“If you play some of the other teams in the Premier League it is more of a level playing field.”

Although Neil made mass changes to the side in the first two rounds of the competition against Bradford and Hull, he is set to change course for City’s visit.

Neil is likely to stick fairly closely to the team which won 1-0 at Birmingham.

He will be hoping that Sean Maguire can maintain the form which has seen him score in the last two games.

Ben Pearson’s fitness will be monitored after he got cramp in his hamstring in the latter stages on Saturday.

Billy Bodin has a calf strain which sidelined him against Birmingham and tonight’s game could come too soon.

Last night, just a couple of hundred tickets remained for the game, the capacity around the 21,500 mark because of segregation and safety issues.

Neil views City as one of the best teams in the world at the moment, if not the best.

It won’t be a full-strength side which Guardiola brings to Lancashire but it will still be one packed with quality.

“Manchester City’s stats are frightening,” said Neil.

“Their average passing rate before they score is 27-and-a-half passes per goal. That is absolutely outstanding.

“The closest to that is 13 which shows you how much quality they have got.

“City have weaknesses, as does every side.

“We know what theirs is but it’s whether we can exploit it – can we get to the point where we can hurt them?”