Preston boss Alex Neil says much can be taken from the loss to Manchester City

Preston North End manager Alex Neil on the touchline with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola
Preston North End manager Alex Neil on the touchline with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

Alex Neil wants his Preston players to be inspired by their clash with Manchester City even though they lost to the Premier League title holders.

PNE boss Neil says there was plenty to take from the 3-0 defeat at Deepdale, both good and bad, and thinks his team will benefit having faced such a strong City side.

“It is always nice to come up against the best,” said Neil.

“Whatever venture you go into, whether that is sport or something else, you want to go up against the best and see how you do.

“Our players will look at what they came up against in the City game and hopefully that can inspire them to get better and be the best they can be.

“What the game showed us is the levels which other clubs, other coaches, other players are capable of.

“As a group we have to think if that is the very best it is some standard and we have a long way to get there.

“But we should take heart from the good bits we did do in the game.”

With the City game played, the focus at North End is back on the Championship and on Saturday’s clash with Bristol City at Deepdale.

They are unbeaten in five league games, winning four of them, and Neil is pleased with how things are going.

At the moment, PNE’s budget and league position have little correlation.

Neil said: “Our budget is in the Championship’s bottom four and we are third in the league at the moment.

“We have done extremely well and we want to continue to do that.

“This is something I’ve said since I have been here but I don’t think spending money equates to success.

“There are a lot of examples of that in the Championship.

“What we have done here is accumulate a determined, young, hungry and talented squad for our level.

“We are trying to get the best out of them and up to this point we have managed to do that.”

For City’s visit, Neil chose to rotate his squad and made six changes to the starting XI.

He also used David Nugent, Josh Ginnelly and Tom Bayliss off the bench.

For Nugent, it was his first game back at Deepdale in a Preston shirt since May 2007.

The 34-year-old got a huge welcome from the fans as he replaced Tom Barkhuizen in the 63rd minute.

Neil said: “It was nice for the fans and good for us that we got him on.

“We have tried to get Nuge minutes since he came back but it has been tough for him with him doing his calf.

“The 30 minutes he got out there will have done him no harm at all in terms of getting about the pitch and getting his lungs open, playing against a quality side.”