Preston North End in good shape heading into international break says Alex Neil

Alex Neil thinks Preston can head into the international break reflecting on a job well done in the first three months of the season.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 11th November 2019, 6:00 am
Patrick Bauer and Paul Gallagher celebrate Preston's third goal in the win against Huddersfield
Patrick Bauer and Paul Gallagher celebrate Preston's third goal in the win against Huddersfield

The Lilywhites’ 3-1 victory over Huddersfield kept them in second place in the table and maintained an excellent record at Deepdale.

Neil’s men have reached the third international break of the campaign having taken 31 points from 16 games.

West Bromwich Albion are two points ahead of them at the top, with North End in front of third-place Leeds on goal difference.

They resume action later in the month with away games at Derby and Hull City, before returning to Deepdale to face West Bromwich on December 2 in front of the Sky cameras.

PNE manager Neil said: “It is always important to try and win before a break. It is the last thing on the fans’ minds and the last thing on the players’ mind before they go and have a weekend without football.

“Mentally, it is extremely good for us to look at what we have delivered over the first 16 games of the season.”

PNE were impressive to say the least on Saturday, the goals coming from Jayden Stockley, Alan Browne and a penalty from Paul Gallagher.

They were 3-0 up by the 51st minute, before Juninho Bacuna pulled one back 16 minutes from time.

It was all done without Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson in the midfield.

Pearson sat it out due to a one-game suspension, while Johnson had not recovered from the foot injury he got at Charlton.

Ryan Ledson and Gallagher replaced them, Neil pleased with how the team adapted to missing two key players.

“You can lose player from an area of the team and cover it quite easily,” said Neil.

“To lose two players from the same area is hard. If you can imagine losing two of your front three, two centre-backs or two central midfielders, you have a job on your hands.

“Whether you like it or not, your dynamic of that area is going to change considerably.

“What we did was to alter and adapt to the changes, we embraced the changes.

“Rather than try to get the guys to do exactly what the other lads normally do, we tried to play to their strengths rather than the strengths of the lads who were missing.

“That gave us the best chance of playing well and I thought we did that.”

Neil did admit that Ledson might have been fortunate to avoid a red card for a tackle on Tommy Elphick.

“Ryan left his foot there to try and block the ball and 
the lad’s natural momentum has taken him through,” said Neil.

“At the time I didn’t think it was a booking but I’ve watched it back and it was worse than I first thought.”