Seventh straight away win is the aim for Preston North End boss Alex Neil

Preston manager Alex Neil is targeting a magnificent seven against Reading tomorrow to carry forward into ‘a week of destiny’ against three of the Championship’s big hitters.

Friday, 29th March 2019, 5:00 am
Paul Gallagher hopes to be back in contention for Preston at Reading following injury

The Lilywhites head to the Madejski Stadium in search of a seventh away victory on the bounce.

Neil’s outfit are the best performing side on the road in all four divisions in 2019, collecting 18 points.

Taking that up to 21 points would be a boost before they face Sheffield United, Leeds and West Bromwich Albion in the space of a week.

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“Reading is a crucial game for us, after that we have got a week of destiny, a week of death,” said Neil.

“It is some week isn’t it? We play three really tough teams in one week.

“That will be hard but I’m sure in this 12-game unbeaten run we are on, there have been weeks when we’ve looked at it and thought, ‘This is tough’.

“Middlesbrough away and Birmingham at home, on the back of the Blackburn derby, was one of them.

“I looked at Middlesbrough and Birmingham and straight away saw two stuffy teams who are hard to break down.

“It was a tough week and we came out of it with nine points.

“If we can go to Reading and get a win, it would set us up for the week after.

“What we don’t really want is to go into the next games on the back of a bad result, having to chase our tails.

“We want to go into those games knowing we have a few points in the bag and so we can approach them in the way we think is best.”

In terms of selection for the trip to Berkshire, Neil kept his cards close to his chest in terms of who might be in and who might be out.

Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne missed the victory over Birmingham. Andrew Hughes and Brad Potts limped out of that game in the second half, while Tom Barkhuizen and Tom Clarke have been absentees of late.

Said Neil: “Some lads are in a better shape now and we’ve still to make some late calls.

“The difficulty I have got sometimes giving out injury information is that it might help and assist the opposition.

“Sometimes I don’t want to tell people things.”

Neil did get Sean Maguire and Lukas Nmecha back from international duty unscathed.

Maguire’s return from duty with the Republic of Ireland was particularly greeted with a sigh of relief.

Said Neil: “I’ve really got to compliment Ireland and Mick McCarthy for helping us with Sean, they were excellent in monitoring his workload.

“He played the first game and not the second, which was great for us.

“Lukas got 30 minutes with Germany Under-21s , so it was a good international break, unlike others have been.”