Preston boss Alex Neil pleased with first few days of pre-season

The PNE squad at Springfields on Monday morning
The PNE squad at Springfields on Monday morning

Preston North End manager Alex Neil is pleased with how the opening stages of pre-season training have gone at Springfields.

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North End manager Alex Neil

North End manager Alex Neil

The heatwave has added to the intensity of the sessions but Neil says the squad have coped well with the workload since reporting back last Thursday.

Currently the training is very fitness-based, with the tactical side coming more to the fore when PNE go to Ireland later this month.

Neil said: “They have coped extremely well, all the lads have come back in good nick.

“At the moment it is a case of getting as much into them without breaking then down.

“The days of making them run hills until they are sick in their hands are long gone.

“It is all very scientific now, we push them to the point where there isn’t much left but make sure they don’t break down.

“Our sports scientist Tom Little has the job of getting them to their limit but not beyond that limit because we can’t afford to have injuries in pre-season.

“When I was a player, they used to find the biggest hill and make us run up and down until you couldn’t do anymore.

“These days the lads are proper athletes and they look after their bodies well.”

Neil didn’t have the luxury of a full pre-season with the Lilywhites last year, his appointment coming a few days into the programme.

“When I came in 12 months ago, we started from scratch really,” said the Scotsman.

“The things we have in place now weren’t there.

“Now we are starting from a good base and platform.

“The lads have had a year of working with me, they all understand tactically and how we work day-to-day.

“The intensity of how we train and the training schedule will be something they will cope with better this year than they did last year.”

Neil, by his own admission, is not a huge fan of this stage of pre-season.

“If I’m being honest, the first two weeks before the friendly games start are a wee bit boring for me,” said Neil.

“It is more fitness based to get their legs up to speed.

“Once the games start, we can start to analyse things and come up with game plans.

“That is when I start to get excited.

“The first couple of games are fitness based and then when we come back from Ireland it is straight into the West Ham and Burnley games.

“That is when we start to focus more on sharpness and tactics. There are different sections to pre-season and we are at the first stage.”