PNE boss says break can give time for rest

Alex Neil directs traffic during Preston's draw at Boro on Saturday
Alex Neil directs traffic during Preston's draw at Boro on Saturday

Preston’s high-intensity style means they will have to recharge the batteries during the international break.

That is the view of boss Alex Neil after seeing his side pick up an impressive eight points from a tough opening five games.

A feature of their play under the new manager in his opening month in charge has been their relentless pressing of teams.

It has been key to the Lilywhites taking the initiative against some of the fancied sides in the Championship and was on show in their 0-0 draw at pre-season title favourites Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Neil will therefore manage his players’ workloads over the next couple of weeks with PNE not back in action until Barnsley visit Deepdale on Saturday, September 9.

“The lads have had a couple of days off and they’ll do three, maybe four days this week,” Neil said.

“Then they’ll have another two or three days off for the weekend.

“We’ve got to recuperate. For how hard we work in games, rest now’s probably more important than actually working.

“Our boys’ fitness levels are of a really good standard but we’ve still got to look after them.”

In terms of things to work on, the only disappointment has been that North End have not enjoyed more success in front of goal over the last month.

Jordan Hugill’s winner against Reading is the only goal from open play, Daniel Johnson’s against Sheffield Wednesday having come from the penalty spot.

With four clean sheets coming at the other end for Chris Maxwell and the PNE defence, it means Neil will bid to fine-tune things at the sharp end of the field during the international break.

“The wee bits we will be working on are in the final third,” Neil said.

“We’ll be working on breaking teams down and adding that cutting edge that we might lack a little bit at the moment.

“Offensively we just need to make sure we tighten up a little bit more so we can take more opportunities.”

There will also be plenty of attention to off-the-field matters ahead of the transfer window closing on Thursday.

Work is continuing to add to the squad, Neil indicating post-match on Saturday that the club could make “one, potentially two” additions.

In terms of departures Hugill remains the subject of much speculation but there have been no developments on that front, North End determined to hold onto their prize asset.

Some fringe players are set to be allowed to leave to get game-time however.