Risk for reward – Preston North End won’t be shy when it comes to chasing victories to secure place in the Championship play-offs

Alex Neil is happy to play a game of risk to keep Preston in the thick of the play-off race over the coming weeks.

Saturday, 30th March 2019, 5:00 am
Preston North End manager Alex Neil

The Lilywhites are back in action for the first time in a fortnight today when they face Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

It is an eight-game run-in to the end of the regular season, one which includes clashes with three of the sides above PNE in the Championship.

North End boss Neil said recently that he thinks five victories might be enough to secure a place in the top six.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And speaking ahead of the trip to Reading, the Scot says it won’t be safety-first game which his side plays.

Neil said: “I wouldn’t say we need to be 20 games unbeaten at the end of the season to be in the play-offs.

“If you look at the fixtures a lot of the teams up there have got to play each other and that means points will be dropped somewhere.

“We are going to have to rack up another batch of wins, there is no question about that.

“I think in the games now, we will be really committed to getting a win and will have to risk losing.

“At Middlesbrough when we were 1-0 down, we had to take risks to try and get back into the game.

“What we did could have backfired and it might have ended-up an ugly night.

“But we managed to work our way back into the game, made aggressive substitutions and won it.

“Birmingham was quite similar, we had to make the game ugly.

“In these next eight games we will take risks, more than we might have done earlier in the season because of what is at stake.

“We don’t want to get to the end of these eight games and think ‘If we had really gone for it in a particular game, we might have won it rather than drawn it’.

“We are going to go for it and see where that takes us.

“I think we are naturally a very aggressive side.

“Since I have been here we have been ultra aggressive in trying to change games in our favour.”

Neil is enjoying plotting a path to the top six, the mood so different to how it was in the early weeks of the season.

After winning on the first day of the campaign, North End collected only two more points going into October.

Said Neil: “I’m enjoying the job of trying to get us into the play-offs, who wouldn’t?

“I didn’t enjoy it when we had only got five points in the first 11 games or so.

“That was the time when I was thinking I needed to get my finger out to fix it.

“We are all doing the best we can for this club because we know how much it means to people, they care dearly about it.”