Preston boss Alex Neil says Stoke clash has no extra spice despite Potters' interest in him earlier in the season

Alex Neil says Stoke’s interest in him earlier in the season will not add any extra spice to Preston’s visit to the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday night.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Preston manager Alex Neil

The Potters courted his services in November when they were looking for a new boss to succeed Nathan Jones.

Neil looked to be top of their list but when PNE issued a stern ‘hands off’, Stoke turned their attention to Michael O’Neill.

Asked if the autumn’s events would lend anything extra to the trip to the Potteries, Neil said: “I don’t think it does.

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Josh Harrop scores for Preston in their 3-1 win over Stoke at Deepdale earlier in the season

“Stoke have got Michael O’Neill as their manager and they will be happy with him.

“I think they are unbeaten in six games at home and have certainly picked up.

“They will be happy with Michael and I’m happy here.

“It is just another game for both teams, Stoke will be desperate for the points just as we are.”

Stoke’s interest in Neil got into the public domain on the eve of PNE’s visit to Charlton at the start of November.

The speculation was put to bed quickly and Neil saw his side win at Charlton to go top of the league.

A few days later, Stoke made their move for Northern Ireland boss O’Neill, allowing him to combine his job with the international post until after the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs in March.

O’Neill has managed to get Stoke heading away from the relegation zone, their latest result a 3-1 home win against Charlton on Saturday.

Looking ahead to the trip down the M6, North End boss Neil said: “It’s a big club.

“Anyone looking at Stoke this year would probably have labelled them as having under-achieved, having not that long ago come down from the Premier League and having spent money in the summer.

“To be fair, until Michael went in they were in real bother, they were going to be in trouble.

“He has come in, steadied the ship, got a couple of the experienced lads firing and picked up key results.

“As we know, home form is crucial to doing anything in any league.

“Our home form has been excellent, their home form of late has been excellent.

“That has given them a platform to try and pull away from that bottom end.”

North End beat Stoke 3-1 at Deepdale in August, Daniel Johnson, Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop on target.

Last season, PNE won 2-0 in the Potteries, with Alan Browne and Brad Potts finding the net.