PNE players can be Lion tamers at Millwall says Alex Neil

Alex Neil thinks his Preston squad have the mentality to cope with tomorrow’s clash with Millwall at the Den.

The South London venue can be an intimidating place for visiting teams and Millwall have a decent home record this season.

Millwall winger Aiden O'Brien is congratulated by Conor McLaughlin

Millwall winger Aiden O'Brien is congratulated by Conor McLaughlin

Neil points out that North End are ‘no shrinking violets’ as he prepares for the visit to the capital.

“Millwall try and make it intimidating, they will be up for the game and their fans will be behind them,” said the PNE boss.

“It is like anything else, it is only an intimidating place if you allow it to be.

“If you look through our team our strengths include power, determination, physicality – all the bits you need to go to difficult venues such as Cardiff and Millwall.

“I don’t think we have any shrinking violets in our team.”

PNE shared a goalless draw with Millwall when the sides met in the reverse fixture at Deepdale in September.

It was not a great spectacle, Neil’s men having 90 minutes of toil against a stubborn Lions side who stayed in their shape.

He believes North End are in a better position now to break down opposition who sit deep.

The Scot said: “We are now better equipped in terms of our squad being stronger and I think the lads have a better understanding of how we want to play.

“We are more hardened now in terms of breaking teams down – that had been an Achilles heel for us.

“At the moment we are in a good place mentally and are in good shape.

“This will be a hard game, Millwall will be up for it but so will we.”

The Lions’ home form is their strength, their seven wins this season all coming at the Den – they are the only team in the Championship not to have won on the road.

On Boxing Day they held leaders Wolves to a 2-2 draw, then beat Queens Park 
Rangers 1-0 three days later in a London derby.

On New Year’s Day, Neil Harris’ men lost at Norwich but they bounced back with a 4-1 win over Barnsley last week in the FA Cup.

Left-winger Aiden O’Brien scored twice in that game, with Ben Thompson and Fred Onyedinma on target.

Former Preston defender Conor McLaughlin returned to the Millwall side for the FA Cup tie, having been on the bench the game before.

McLaughlin signed for the London side in the summer on a Bosman after turning down a new deal at Fleetwood.

He started his career with North End, making 19 starts and nine sub appearances.

A broken ankle stalled his progress at Deepdale, and he left during the mass exodus in the summer of 2012 when Graham Westley was at the helm.

Millwall’s leading scorer is George Saville, the former Wolves man having scored seven goals from midfield.

Jed Wallace and ex-Halifax striker Lee Gregory have both scored four goals.

Gregory and Steve Morison are likely to play up front for the hosts tomorrow.