Preston North End boss Alex Neil will closely monitor players’ game preparation
Preston boss Alex Neil has revealed that he will continue to tightly monitor the club’s training methods next season.
North End suffered a number of injuries during the last campaign which ultimately killed off any hopes they had of reaching the Championship play-offs.
Centre-forward Billy Bodin missed the entire nine months after damaging his knee before a ball was kicked in anger.
And worse was to follow when in-form striker Callum Robinson was ruled out for several months in November, after suffering a serious hamstring injury during the 4-1 win over derby rivals Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale.
No sooner had Robinson returned to full fitness in March, Neil lost a number of other key individuals towards the end of the season. Tom Barkhuizen, Brandon Parker and Andrew Hughes all found themselves on the treatment table in the final few weeks.
At various points over the course of the season and to a lesser extent, Neil has been left without other influential figures such as Tom Clarke and Alan Browne, who ironically suffered an injury in training – this time to his calf – while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland at the weekend.
Such were his concerns at the number of injuries his team suffered – particularly muscle injuries – Neil ordered an ‘outside audit’ to be undertaken to assess fitness, training and weekly schedules to prevent a similar occurrence happening next season.
The fitness expert brought in to conduct the audit did not uncover anything alarming and it may well be that North End were just unlucky last season. However, Neil is eager to keep his eye on the ball going forward.
He said: “What we tended to find is that the lads who were playing the most game-time were working the hardest in training too, so we need to temper that.
“It’s probably a bit of raw enthusiasm from them.
“As you get older what you tend to do is protect yourself a bit more in training so that you are ready for the games.
“What these lads are doing is because they are so honest, they work so hard in training at times to get themselves ready for games and over-exert themselves.
“There are a whole host of little things which we can adjust on other things.
“The audit didn’t show up one major thing where you think, ‘Wow, we have to change that’.
“It will be a case of tweaking a few things.
“We will continue to monitor things as the season goes on.”