Preston North End boss Alex Neil wants FA Cup third round to be rescheduled in future following defeat by Norwich City

Preston boss Alex Neil gives instructions to midfielders Tom Bayliss and Ryan Ledson during the Norwich game
Preston boss Alex Neil gives instructions to midfielders Tom Bayliss and Ryan Ledson during the Norwich game

North End boss Alex Neil has suggested there be more of a gap between the Christmas fixtures and the third round of the FA Cup.

Many managers rang the changes for the weekend’s cup ties, Neil among them.

He made nine changes for the 4-2 defeat to Norwich City at Deepdale, only Ben Davies and Darnell Fisher staying in the side which had lost on New Year’s Day against Middlesbrough.

The Canaries made eight changes themselves and a switch on both sides proved significant in the contest.

North End keeper Connor Ripley made mistakes for Norwich’s second and third goals.

For the visitors, teenager Adam Idah netted a hat-trick in only his third senior game.

Neil acknowledged that making mass changes can lead to a disjointed display, with it taking PNE until the second half to find their feet.

“If people want the FA Cup to be treated with the respect and prestige it deserves, don’t put it on the back of four or five games in 12 days,” said Neil.

“A lot of us don’t have the resources and squad to keep putting our players in week in, week out.

“It’s not even week in, week out – we have been in a pattern of ‘a game, two days, a game, two days’ and so on.

“This was the fourth game in a short space of time, a lot of players are tired and some have been ill.

“Our last couple of results hadn’t been great, so it offered me the chance to give other lads a chance.

“It isn’t easy to throw a lot of players in together like this but how do you give them a chance otherwise?”

Tom Bayliss got only his fourth game in a PNE shirt, partnering Ryan Ledson in midfield.

Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop netted PNE’s goals in the second half, Norwich having taken a 3-0 lead into the interval.

Said Neil: “Sean Maguire’s high-intensity stats have been way above anyone else’s, so he needed a rest.

“Alan Browne has been grumping and groaning about his body of late – he’s put his body through the wringer.

“Josh Ginnelly was ill, so was Paul Huntington and Patrick Bauer. Tom Clarke was on the bench having been ill for two days before.”

Meanwhile, Josh Earl is back at Deepdale after his loan at Bolton came to an end.

The loan ran out yesterday and Bolton were understood to have asked about extending it for the rest of the season only to have a late change of mind –something which has not gone down well with PNE.

Other clubs have asked about Earl’s availability on loan and North End are keen for the 21-year-old defender to get further first-team experience.