Preston North End boss Alex Neil warns not to get carried away

Paul Gallagher could return to Preston's midfield against Barnsley at Deepdale tomorrow
Paul Gallagher could return to Preston's midfield against Barnsley at Deepdale tomorrow

Alex Neil is pleased Preston’s good start to the season has raised expectation levels but he does not want those to get ‘giddy’ at this early stage.

PNE are sixth in the table ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Barnsley at Deepdale, having taken 18 points from 10 matches.

Lilywhites manager Neil detected disappointment in the air following the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough in midweek.

That was a gauge perhaps of the growing expectations.

Neil said: “People for some reason think we should be rocking up at Middlesbrough and beating them.

“I find that astonishing as Middlesbrough are a good team with good players.

“Expectation is not a bad thing as long as there is still an element of realism.

“The better we do, the more is expected of you. We want to raise the levels but also keep them at a level where it doesn’t hamper us.

“At the moment people might be getting a little bit giddy about it.

“We have played 10 games – if we are in this position after 30 games by all means let’s get excited.

“There is a long way to go and a lot of football still to be played.

“Saying all that, I’m pleased with how we are doing.

“If you look at the table, we are only two points behind Leeds, who are excellent.

“We are level on points with Fulham, their squad has been assembled with guys who have played a lot in the Premier League.

“Look at West Bromwich, we are a point off them. We are right in the mix.

“I think the boys have done remarkably well, albeit there is still room for improvement and we will be striving to get that improvement.”

Neil has selection options to weigh up for tomorrow. He could very well recall Paul Gallagher after giving the 
midfielder a breather in the Boro game.

Gallagher, 35, came on as a substitute late in the clash, Neil opting not to start him in two games close together.

David Nugent had been an option to start on Tuesday but Neil felt the striker would be more effective coming off the bench in the second half.

If he wants to freshen up the frontline, Nugent will be high in his thinking.

Darnell Fisher will miss the game due to a one-match ban for reaching five bookings.

Joe Rafferty could move over to right-back after being the stand-in left-back for much of the campaign.

That would depend on the fitness of Andrew Hughes who has missed the last three games with a hip flexor injury.

Alan Browne has filled in at right-back this season and is another option.

Neil may have Billy Bodin back in contention after four games out with a calf strain.