The number of injuries picked by his players has left Preston boss with a feeling of what might have been this season
Alex Neil says he has a number of highlights from Preston’s season but his general feeling is still one of frustration at the number of injuries suffered.
Lilywhites manager Neil is convinced his side would still have been in contention for the play-offs now had some of the wounded stayed fit.
As it is, they go into today’s penultimate match against Sheffield Wednesday in 12th place – a top-10 finish looking as good as it can get.
The season finishes a week tomorrow at Brentford, the trip to Griffin Park having a 12.30pm kick-off.
Reflecting on the season, Neil said: “The development of some of our young players has been key.
“When we have had people fit, the runs we went on were very good.
“We’ve scored four goals in a game five times and that is something Preston hadn’t done for a while.
“Our away record has been good, we won six away games on the bounce which most teams would be proud of.
“So there have certainly been highlights but they have been marred by key injuries, there is no getting away from that.
“Recently we have played without Ben Pearson because of suspension, Alan Browne and Brad Potts through injury.
“You could argue they could be our midfield three.
“Tom Barkhuizen is out, he is someone I’ve been banging the drum about for I don’t know how well.
“Hopefully now people will realise why because we have missed him.
“Andrew Hughes until he got injured had been one of our most consistent players.
“We’ve had a lot to contend with and that is frustrating.”
The ‘audit’ of the injuries which Neil talked about last week, is now being done.
It is the high number of muscular injuries which will come under scrutiny.
“There are certain injuries which you can’t do anything about,” said Neil.
“The two cruciate ones for Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop, they were just bad luck.
“Contact injuries you can’t do anything about, they are part of the game.
“Soft-tissue muscular ones is where our focus is, we are looking at hamstrings and quads.
“We’ve got the audit going on this week, hopefully that references certain things which we can change.”
North End’s starting XI and bench in recent games have pretty contained all the fit and available players.
Ben Pearson will come back into contention today after suspension, his return coinciding with Ryan Ledson starting a four-game ban.
Adam O’Reilly has been an unused substitute for the last two games, with the teenager likely to be in the squad again this afternoon.