Preston North End boss Alex Neil reveals what can make them a success

Forward Graham Burke has settled in well
Forward Graham Burke has settled in well

Alex Neil says the strong bond between his Preston squad off the pitch could be key to their fortunes on it.

The togetherness and team spirit is a topic which crops up regularly when players talk about life at Deepdale.

Neil regards that as a big factor in PNE’s ambitions and the ability to keep the squad intact.

He also uses it as a strong selling point when trying to bring in new signings.

“The lads want to be here, they are really friendly and pally off the pitch,” said North End boss Neil.

“They can see their careers progressing here – we had our best finish for a number of years last season.

“We have added to the squad and still want to do a bit of business between now and the window shutting.

“All the lads here, both who we had last season and the 
ones who have come in this summer, can all see that 
this club is going places.

“They want to be part of that, so keeping players here or attracting them has not been a hard sell for us.”

So far this summer, Neil has added five players to the Preston squad.

Four of them – Graham Burke, Jordan Storey, Ryan Ledson and Andrew Hughes – have featured throughout the pre-season.

The other newcomer, keeper Michael Crowe, has yet to play, with Chris Maxwell and Declan Rudd sharing the gloves in the friendlies.

Neil is pleased with how the signings have settled and performed so far.

Burke scored five minutes into his first appearance at Bamber Bridge and has caught the eye either playing off the striker or in a wider role.

Hughes has made a strong claim for the left-back role, with Storey solid at the 
heart of the defence. When Ben Pearson came off early in the West Ham game last 
Saturday, Ledson took to the holding midfield role very well.

Said Neil: “What we have done is invest in potential, we have invested in guys who we want to make better.

“The lads signed over the last two or three years have developed at an unbelievable rate, while the new guys have settled in well this time.

“We are stronger than we were last year and I think we have a really good chance of improving on last season.”

As for further recruitment before the August 9 deadline, Neil is confident of getting some business done.

He said: “At the moment we are in a position where we think people might become available.

“Just now we wouldn’t be able to get them but that could well change.

“We are biding our time and will certainly be doing a bit of business by the time the window shuts.”