Preston boss Alex Neil is hoping today’s Boxing Day clash against Hull City can be a Christmas cracker

Preston North End's manager Alex Neil
Preston North End's manager Alex Neil

Alex Neil expects Preston to serve up a better Boxing Day offering against Hull than they did at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

The PNE boss admitted the 1-0 defeat to the Owls was a poor spectacle, mainly down to the early red card for Ben Pearson which meant his side had to try and stifle the game.

Hull’s visit to Deepdale this afternoon (3pm) is the first of two home matches over Christmas, with Aston Villa next on Saturday.

Neil hopes North End can put the Hillsborough defeat quickly behind them, like they did earlier in the month when they lost at Birmingham but bounced back to win against Nottingham Forest.

“When you look back at the Sheffield Wednesday game, it wasn’t as if we performed that poorly, it was just that the game was poor,” said Neil.

“We had a man sent-off and then switched-off at a corner for their goal.

“We have put that one to bed and our focus in now on the next game.

“The Boxing Day game will be better than Saturday.

“We have some big games coming up and we want to get some points from them.

“We will go into them as we have done in the last 12 or 13 games with a belief that we can win them.

“We’ll come up with a game plan which we think will give us the best chance.”

Neil’s selection options will be limited by injuries today, that a continuation of the last few weeks.

Louis Moult is a big doubt with a hamstring problem.

The striker had returned to the side on Saturday having missed the win over Millwall with a hamstring niggle.

However, Moult only got through 47 minutes before he pulled-up again.

Lukas Nmecha moved up front to replace him and when he was substituted later as Neil sought to freshen things up, Tom Barkhuizen played as the main striker.

Goalkeeper Chris Maxwell hurt his knee in the warm-up on Saturday, with Michael Crowe replacing him on the bench.

The opening of the transfer window next week will allow Neil to bolster his squad.

Neil admits the injuries which have hit the squad has forced him to change course to a degree in what he wants in January.

“Targets have naturally changed over the course of the season,” said Neil.

“What we were targeting when the last window shut and what we are targeting now has evolved because we have picked-up so many injuries.

“We will try and strengthen the squad if we can, it won’t be easy because of the restraints we work within in but we do our very best.

“We need players to come in to give us a hand and add to the squad.”