Momentum is key for Preston North End says Alex Neil

Brad Potts is hoping to be fit for Preston's visit to Reading on Saturday
Brad Potts is hoping to be fit for Preston's visit to Reading on Saturday

Alex Neil will look for Preston to carry on where they left off in terms of momentum when they resume action after the international break.

The Lilywhites won three games in a week leading up to the break, forming part of a 12-match unbeaten run.

On Saturday they start their run-in against Reading, Neil’s men looking to extend their campaign by earning a place in the play-offs.

North End manager Neil saw it as a positive that his side took maximum points from Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Birmingham City without being at the top of their game.

Now he hopes a refreshed squad can kick on and get back to their best.

Neil said: “Momentum is massive in football and we’ve had that recently.

“In the last two or three games the quality in terms of how we played was not quite at its best.

“However, when you have got that winning mentality and a knack of winning, you never give up.

“When you achieve things in football, you can look back at key moments.

“It might be that we look back at the Birmingham game – scoring right at the end – as one of those moments.

“At Middlesbrough the game before, my talk at half-time was along those lines.

“We weren’t playing well but it was a case of hanging on in there and seeing if we could get something.

“In the end we managed to turn the game around and we went on to win.”

Saturday’s visit to Reading is followed by games against Sheffield United, Leeds and West Bromwich, who are all chasing automatic promotion or the play-offs.

Neil’s attitude is prepare for the unexpected due to the nature of the division.

“Regardless of who you play in this league, whether it is the first-placed team or the one at the bottom, it is tough,” said Neil.

“We beat Norwich, who have been flying, but at the start of the year we went to Rotherham and lost.

“The matches are all very different, some of the teams are quality football teams and others are more direct.

“You have to be capable of winning different games in a variety of ways.

“That is the challenge you have got and that is why this division is so tough.”

While North End were in good form prior to the break, the gap in the fixture list will hopefully have helped some of the injuries to clear up.

Brad Potts took a knock in the Birmingham game and had to come off, while Andrew Hughes was forced out of the action with a hamstring issue.

Key midfielders Alan Brown and Paul Gallagher both missed that game with ankle and calf injuries, Tom Barkhuizen missing too.