PNE boss Alex Neil faces familiar foe in new Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka
Aitor Karanka

Alex Neil and Aitor Karanka will lock horns again on the City Ground touchline when Preston meet Nottingham Forest, just as they did at Wembley in 2015.

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Neil was Norwich boss and Karanka in charge of Middlesbrough when they met in the Championship play-off final.

That day it was Neil who came out on top, Norwich beating Boro 2-0 to claim a place in the Premier League.

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A year later the pair swapped places as Norwich were relegated and Boro won promotion.

Karanka took over at Forest three weeks ago, the Spaniard having left Boro last March.

PNE boss Neil said: “It will be a tough game.

“Aitor has gone in there and obviously we have met before, so it will be an interesting one.

“Aitor makes his sides hard to beat, Forest will be well organised and they have good players.”

It is a little more than a month since PNE and Forest last met.

That game ended in a 1-1 draw at Deepdale, Mark Warburton in charge of Forest at the time.

Despite falling behind and needing an equaliser late on from centre-back Paul Huntington, Neil felt that was a game North End did more than enough to win.

“That was another game which I felt we should have won,” said Neil.

“It finished 1-1 but I thought we played very well, created a lot of chances and really we should have been out of sight in the first 30 minutes.

“I watched that game back over the weekend as part of the preparation for this one.”