Pressing game delights PNE boss Neil

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Preston’s high-pressing and hard-running style always has a purpose and is not just for the sake of it, says Alex Neil.

North End have put the miles on the clock in matches this season, a work-rate which has paid dividends as they sit fifth in the Championship.

Josh Harrop leaves Fulham's Tim Ream on the floor at Craven Cottage

Josh Harrop leaves Fulham's Tim Ream on the floor at Craven Cottage

Bearing in mind how they hounded Fulham for two-thirds of last week’s 2-2 draw, it was a surprise to learn that the amount of ground covered as a team was not among the highest so far this season.

PNE boss Neil said: “It was not as much as you would have thought.

“In terms of the distance covered this season, that wasn’t one of the top ones, the reason probably being that we had a few players returning from injury.

“When you look at the team we had, Ben Pearson hadn’t played for six weeks, Tom Barkhuizen hadn’t trained for a week-and-a-half, Sean Maguire had been away with the Republic of Ireland and hadn’t done a large amount.

“Calum Woods had just come back into the side too.

“The distance covered was probably a bit lower as the game wore on.

“There were some players who were high but collectively as a group not as high.

“It is not hopeless running, it is not running for running’s sake.

“It is making sure we sense blood, sense when there is a bit of fragility in the other team to try and win the ball back.

“We hunt in packs, that is what we do extremely well.

“If you think how much we have managed to shift the style in that respect, a huge amount of credit goes to the players.”

Earlier in the season, Neil revealed that in one game PNE as a team had run 5km further than their opponents.

After being a few seconds away from victory at Fulham, North End have now turned their thoughts to Saturday’s visit to league leaders Wolves.

Neil is glad to have had the clear midweek to prepare for the Molineux clash.