Strong Preston North End team spirit is driven by the players says Lilywhites manager Alex Neil

Preston manager Alex Neil gives instructions during the win against Huddersfield at Deepdale
Preston manager Alex Neil gives instructions during the win against Huddersfield at Deepdale

Alex Neil says the strong squad spirit and discipline within the Preston North End dressing room is driven by the players.

The tight-knit nature of the PNE squad is often cited as being a big factor in results on the pitch.

Preston manager Alex Neil

Preston manager Alex Neil

North End manager Neil believes the players deserve a lot of the credit for that.

“There are rules here and we have a code of conduct, a lot of that is driven by the players,” said Neil.

“They are self-sufficient on that front you could say.

“There is stuff which needs to be brought to the manager’s door but most of it is led by them and they do that really well.

“The balance is right, it is all done properly.

“The simple fact is that whatever I take off the players in fines, when it comes to Christmas I give it back to them and say ‘Go off and have a good time’!

“Most of the time the lads will fine each other for things, they’ve got the rules about being on time and what to wear for matches.”

While Neil lets his players self-police, he has a strong bond with the squad.

That bond and level of respect is something he thinks goes a long way.

Neil said: “There has got to be respect between the squad and manager.

“It can be a tough time for players who haven’t played as much as they would have liked.

“I think it is important how you get dealt with as a player and the conversations you have with the manager.

“Our squad is made up of players who at any given time I can put in or take out of the team without altering the way we play.

“Anyone is capable of going into the team and making an impact. It is important that all the players understand that.

“You have to treat players with respect, you are speaking to them as men, not as kids.”

The international break has afforded Neil the chance to refresh the squad.

They had a couple of days off after he Huddersfield win before returning to training.

There was a long weekend off for them but it is business as usual from Monday in the build-up to the visit to Derby.

Sean Maguire and Alan Browne will rejoin the squad on Thursday after being on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

Both started last Thursday 3-1 friendly win over New Zealand with Maguire scoring.

On Monday night, the Republic of Ireland meet Denmark in Dublin in a must-win Euro 2020 qualifier.