Preston North End boss Alex Neil sees Owls’ experience as a key factor

North End's Ben Davies jumps with Sheffield Wednesday's Steven Fletcher
North End's Ben Davies jumps with Sheffield Wednesday's Steven Fletcher

It will be an in-form Sheffield Wednesday side making the trip to Deepdale to face Preston, which should remove any end-of -season feel to the clash.

The Owls can still make the play-offs but being four points behind sixth place with two to play, leaves them needing snookers, so to speak.

Steve Bruce accepts they will more than likely miss out but that should not detract from the job he has done since taking charge in February.

Wednesday were in 16th place when Bruce took the reins, his first game in charge being a 1-0 win at Ipswich on February 2.

His appointment had been announced a month earlier but he was allowed a holiday prior to coming in.

Sevens wins, seven draws and just two defeats have come on Bruce’s watch.

So PNE could well have their work cut out as they look to pick up some late form.

North End were the first opponents for Wednesday in December after they parted company with Jos Luhukay.

Lee Bullen was handed the caretaker’s coat for the clash at Hillsborough which saw the home side win 1-0.

They have only lost three times in the Championship since Luhukay’s final game, the Owls very much a club who look to be on the up.

That said, they have a big summer ahead with a number of players still to sort out their futures and financial fair play to comply with.

PNE boss Alex Neil is not surprised to see Wednesday thriving.

He is looking to increase the amount of experience in Preston’s squad this summer and points to the Yorkshire club already having that in abundance.

Neil said: “When you look at their squad, can you name one young player?

“They’ve got the boy Josh Onomah on loan in the middle of the pitch but that’s it.

“In the squad they’ve got Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper, Steven Fletcher, Tom Lees, Adam Reach, George Boyd, Kieran Westwood, Sam Hutchinson.

“There are others too, lots of experience in there – the sort you need in this division.”

Wednesday collected four points over Easter, drawing 2-2 at Norwich and beating Bristol City 2-0 at home.

They were seconds away from victory at Norwich only for the Canaries to score in the 97th minute.

Bruce said: “We should have had six points out of six from the Easter period.

“We’re disappointed because we are going to finish a couple of points off the 
play-offs by the looks of it.

“I would think no one would want to play us at the minute, that’s for sure.

“Our run has just come a little bit late. Being realistic, when we first came in, people were looking the other way in terms of the table.

“We have lost two out of 16, which is quite remarkable.

“All credit to the players and my staff who have worked tirelessly to what we want to do.

“The response and effort from everybody concerned has been great.”