Preston North End midweek stars put themselves in the frame for Forest says Alex Neil

Ryan Ledson impressed in midfield for North End
Ryan Ledson impressed in midfield for North End

Preston boss Alex Neil believes his ‘second-string’ has given him plenty of food for thought for this weekend’s trip to Nottingham Forest.

The North End manager gave many of his ‘regulars’ the night off on Tuesday for the League Cup second-round tie against Hull City at Deepdale.

Out of the 16-man squad went players such as Ben Pearson, Daniel Johnson and Declan Rudd, replaced by Tom Bayliss – who was making his home debut after signing in the summer – Ryan Ledson and Connor Ripley.

There were also first starts of the season for Aston Villa loan man Andre Green on the wing and Josh Ginnelly, who was asked to play at left-back

All five, along with Paul Huntington and Jordan Storey, who also played against Hull, have yet to make a start in the Championship this season, while other cup starters like Josh Harrop and Brad Potts have been named in the league only once so far this campaign.

North End required the lottery of a penalty shootout to progress through to the third round of the competition, after letting a 2-0 lead slip against Hull – conceding an equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game.

Despite being frustrated and disappointed with the way his men performed in the second half, particularly towards the end, Neil felt overall 
Preston deserved to win and was especially impressed with some of the football on show in the first period.

After a quiet opening, North End sprung into life when Hungtington headed home Alan Browne’s free-kick on 20 minutes.

Harrop made it 2-0 six minutes later, firing home a rebound from eight yards after Tom Barkhuizen’s fierce shot was parried by Matt Ingram.

“It’s disappointing that the game ended in the manner it did,” said Neil.

“But we have still got through to the next round and the lads are pleased with that – we have another game to come in the competition in a couple of weeks.

“I think we can take 
massive positives from the first half. I thought we were great in the first half.

“That will always be overlooked because the last thing people will go away with is how it finished.

“What people won’t remember is how well we played in the first half, but I will so the lads deserve massive credit for that.

“But equally we were disappointed with what happened in the second half and they are well aware of that.”

Pacy forward Tom Barkhuizen remains a big doubt for the trip to the City Ground. He played up front from the start against Hull but was replaced at half-time by Jayden Stockley after suffering a groin injury.