Re-jigged scheduled just what Preston North End boss Alex Neil wanted

Tom Barkhuizen takes on the Saints defence during Saturday's 3-1 defeat
Tom Barkhuizen takes on the Saints defence during Saturday's 3-1 defeat

Alex Neil wants Preston to make full use of their re-jigged pre-season programme and learn from the weekend loss to Southampton.

This week’s schedule has changed considerably, with Accrington Stanley now their opponents tomorrow night at Leyland after Bolton pulled out of the fixture.

North End boss Alex Neil

North End boss Alex Neil

They go to Fleetwood Town as scheduled on Friday night before hosting Newcastle at Deepdale on Saturday – a game organised at short notice.

Bolton had to cancel their involvement tomorrow due to the ongoing financial turmoil at the club.

The few players they have are currently on strike after not being paid for five months.

Newcastle approached North End about playing next Saturday, new Magpies boss Steve Bruce wanting a game after their return from China. Neil told the Lancashire Post: “The schedule had been a bit disappointing until we added the Newcastle game.

“A lot of Premier League teams have been abroad as you will have noticed from all the stuff on Sky Sports right now.

“We have found it difficult to find league teams to come and give us a game.

“That is why I snapped up Newcastle right away, as soon as it became available.

“We want to test ourselves against the better teams –there is no point rocking up at the start of the season thinking you are excellent and then go and produce a performance like we did on Saturday.”

Neil understood totally why Bolton had pulled out of tomorrow’s game and thanked Accrington for stepping in at short notice.

“I spoke to Phil Parkinson and he had wanted to take the game,” said Neil.

“The simple fact is that his players are not being paid and haven’t been paid for some considerable amount of time. I spoke to John Coleman at 
Accrington who took the game and that was pleasing.

“We’ve got the numbers to cover these games – we had a full team sat on the side when we played Southampton.

“It is my responsibility to get everyone ready for the start of the season and it is their responsibilty to play as well as they can.

“We were disappointing on Saturday and didn’t play well but I’d rather it happen now than when points are at stake.”

On the fitness front, Neil says David Nugent will step up his workload in training today.

Nugent, who signed last week, is rehabilitating from a summer knee operation.

Said Neil: “Nuge has done bits and pieces with us and that will be stepped up as of today, he will be training with us regularly.

“What we need to do is top him up after training to get to get his fitness levels back to where we need them.

“He’s a good lad who brings with him lots of experience.”