Preston boss Alex Neil hopes to get on a roll over Easter

Alex Neil is hoping Preston’s results over Easter can have a ‘snowball’ effect on their push for the top six.

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PNE striker Sean Maguire after making his first start for the Republic of Ireland last week

PNE striker Sean Maguire after making his first start for the Republic of Ireland last week

North End tackle Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Good Friday then welcome play-off rivals Derby County to Deepdale on Monday.

Sky Sports are showing the Rams clash live, with the game kicking off at 12.45pm.

PNE boss Neil is keeping the players’ focus firmly fixed on Friday’s game, even though his planning has to take into account the swift turnaround.

“For the lads, it is all about dealing with the game in front of us,” said Neil.

“We are at the stage of the season now where each game we play – especially if we get a positive result – can magnify the next one.

“The next game becomes bigger and bigger, the way I have described it to the lads is that it is like a snowball effect – after this one, the next one is even bigger.

“However, if you don’t get your business done in the first game, the second, third or fourth one can become less significant.

“Obviously we don’t want that happening to us and we want to bring a good result back with us from Sheffield Wednesday.”

Neil has been able to work with the majority of his squad this week, Welsh pair Chris Maxwell and Billy Bodin the only two missing.

They have been in China with the Wales squad and will be back training tomorrow.

Republic of Ireland trio Sean Maguire, Alan Browne and Daryl Horgan were back at Springfields on Monday.

Neil has been careful with their workloads this week, bearing in mind they are just back from quite an intense spell with the Irish.

While they only played one game, there was a three-day training camp before it. Neil said: “We have just needed to adjust the loads for the lads to make sure we didn’t overcook them.

“That is something we are conscious of, that they might need a bit more rest.

“The most important thing is their fitness levels.

“What we have got here are a good, honest group of lads who will tell you how they are feeling.

“We work off that and there is no point pushing them if they are not going to be fresh for the game.”

Neil was pleased to see four of the five players get a game for their country – Maxwell was the unlucky one to go all the way to China and sit on the bench for two games.

“Four of the lads played and as a club we should be very proud of that,” said Neil.

“Sean and Alan made their first starts for the Republic of Ireland, Daryl got 15 minutes, while Billy made his debut for Wales.

“I’m really happy for them all.”