Preston boss Alex Neil on battle for right-back spot

Marnick Vermijl, Darnell Fisher and Calum Woods.
Marnick Vermijl, Darnell Fisher and Calum Woods.
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Alex Neil is happy for there to be a three-way battle for the Preston right-back shirt this season.

Marnick Vermijl and new boy Darnell Fisher will battle it out to start with, then there is Calum Woods to join in once he gets himself fully fit.

In the 5-1 win at Fleetwood on Friday night, Neil handed Fisher an 80-minute run out before Vermijl came off the bench in his place.

Woods featured in a squad game at the training ground on Saturday morning as he strives for fitness after more than a year out with injury.

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Neil told the Post: “I thought Darnell did great on his debut.

“We have got Marnick, who will be good competition for him, both of them can fight it out.

“Then we have Calum, who can play on both sides. 
Calum missed all of last 
season with the knee injury so I didn’t want to start the season without having cover in that position.

“If Calum was to pick up another injury, we would have been left with one right-back.

“It will be good to have them all available.

“If Calum gets himself fit and ready, there is no reason why he can’t stake a claim in that position.”

It will be interesting to see who gets the nod from Neil at right-back against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, along with the pairing he goes for at centre-back.

Neil has looked at all four central defenders during the pre-season games in a variety of combinations.

At Fleetwood, it was Paul Huntington and Tommy Spurr, with Ben Davies taking over from Spurr for the final 20 minutes.

Of concern to North End fans will be the two goals they conceded against Burnley last week and the one let in at Fleetwood – all came from headers at set-plays.

Acknowledging that PNE are not the biggest side, Neil says it is an area which needs some attention.

Whether he will work with the centre-backs he has got or add to their number, remains to be seen.

Said Neil: “We do lack size , we aren’t the biggest of teams but I have never picked players based on how tall they are.

“However, the one thing I will say about the goal against Fleetwood is that it was our biggest player who lost the header.

“We need to improve on that, we’ll do a lot of work on it this week.

“As I said, I have never bought a player for being big.

“I like technical players but I understand you can’t fill your team full of them.

“We have got some big lads, Hunts is, Greg Cunningham is a big lad, we’ve got Ben Davies and Tommy Spurr who are big enough. Jordan Hugill has still to come back, he is a big lad.”

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