Top-six bid must go to the wire says Preston North End boss Alex Neil

Alex Neil says Declan Rudd has deserved more clean sheets in PNE's recent unbeaten run
Alex Neil says Declan Rudd has deserved more clean sheets in PNE's recent unbeaten run
Have your say

PNE boss Alex Neil insists his side know how much work is needed to challenge for the play-offs but believes anything can happen if they get in the mix.

The Lilywhites head to Millwall on Saturday nine points shy of the top six with 13 games to play.

They have, however, built some real momentum in recent weeks and will look to make it eight games unbeaten in the Championship at The Den.

“We understand the amount of work we’ve got to do to threaten that top six,” said Neil.

“Because of the way the fixtures have panned out, games in hand mean that gap has got a little bigger.

“If Blackburn had got something from Middlesbrough then that gap still looks quite tight and you think, ‘We could go and bridge that’.
It looks more difficult at the moment but football changes really quickly.

“If we go and win on Saturday and a couple of those teams lose then things tighten up again.

“If we can go into the last two or three matches and there are still enough points in it that you can bridge the gap then anything can happen.

“Football’s a really bizarre game. Let’s see how we go.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, we’re seven games unbeaten and we want to keep that run going.”

Neil’s side find themselves in the 11th spot that was their home for the two campaigns prior to his arrival in the summer of 2017.

Surpassing that and closing in on last season’s seventh place represents an initial target for the Lilywhites.

“We finished seventh last year, before that we finished 11th twice,” said Neil.

“We don’t want to finish any lower than that. We want to make sure we finish the 
season well and if we get on a really good run of form and get a bit fortunate with some of the other teams around us dropping points, then you never know.”

Neil admits he can pick little fault with his side’s fine recent form, PNE looking to win a fourth away game in a row at The Den.

“We’ve been very good,” he said.

“Other than the Forest game, which was rubbish, we’ve been excellent for the last few games in every aspect.

“There have been quite a few clean sheets in there, a lot of goals, good intensity, good rotation and keeping of the ball and a good number of chances created.

“I’ve not complaints apart from conceding goals against Bolton and Norwich, which was disappointing because I think Declan Rudd and the defenders deserved a couple of clean sheets there. That’s the only real negative from the last six or seven matches.”