Preston boss Alex Neil delighted by his side's improvement at the back

Alex Neil is pleased that clean sheets have been the foundation to Preston North End’s form upturn.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 8:00 am
Preston boss Alex Neil

Three wins on the bounce have been achieved without the opposition scoring, the latest being the 2-0 victory over Coventry on Tuesday.

North End had shipped 16 goals in the seven games before that, only keeping one clean sheet in that sequence.

The aim is to maintain that defensive solidity but to try and add more attacking flair to their play.

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Lilywhites manager Neil does admit that the focus on keeping the door shut at the back has perhaps taken an edge off them going forward.

“I know people think I’m a grumpy so-and-so but I will always look at different aspects of the game, whatever the result,” said Neil.

“What I look at is how we defend, how we try and build, how we try and play – there are always things we can do better.

“As a coach and as a player, you should always be looking for that perfect performance and the perfect balance in how you play.

“One thing which we had to address and we have done, is how many goals we were conceding.

“Sometimes when you do that, you lose that threat at the top end of the pitch.

“I’m still wanting us to be more of a threat, albeit we have scored some goals recently.

“If you think back to the Bournemouth game at the start of the month, we were excellent and carried a threat but still conceded two goals.

“One was a great free-kick and the other we should have done better with.

“To get three clean sheets and three wins on the bounce at this level against any of the teams is extremely difficult.

“I’m pleased with the lads, they have put a lot in.”

North End will assess an injury to Alan Browne ahead of Nottingham Forest’s visit to Deepdale on Saturday.

The skipper, who was off colour against Coventry, came off before the hour mark.

Neil said: “Alan’s calf just tightened up so it was best to take him off.

“To be fair, a lot of the lads have been playing with niggles and knocks for a significant amount of time.

“You look at who we were without the other night, Pat Bauer is out for the season and he’s been crucial for us.

“Ben Pearson is missing still, in years gone by when Ben was missing we struggled to win any game.

“Now we have won three on the bounce without him.

“Scott Sinclair who is our top goalscorer this season, was missing.

“The injury to Scott is not a significant one. He won’t be far away from the games coming up.

“We just need to keep an eye on him for the next few days and see how he goes.”