Preston North End boss Alex Neil has high hopes that football will be top quality

North End manager Alex Neil hopes the games which are played when the season resumes can reflect the tempo and quality of those before football’s shutdown.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 5th June 2020, 8:00 am

While the last segment of the Championship campaign will be very different, in terms of matches being played behind closed doors, Neil does not want the quality of play to suffer.

He has taken heart from the football played by teams in Germany’s Bundesliga in the same circumstances.

The season is due to start again on June 20 for North End and their Championship counterparts.

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Preston manager Alex Neil

By then they will have had just less than four weeks to regain match sharpness since coming back into training.

The build-up contains some hallmarks of a pre-season programme but missing will be a raft of friendlies.

There might be the odd friendly game squeezed into the schedule but not on the scale traditionally seen before a season starts.

Neil told PNE’s official website: “It will be quite interesting to see what happens when games start.

“I don’t think there has been a drop in tempo in the German games I have seen, they have been played at a very good tempo and quality.

“Naturally the way to get your match fitness is by playing games.

“In normal circumstances you play friendlies in pre-season and by the time you hit the sixth and seventh of those you are getting right up to speed.

“By the time we get to the sixth and seventh game in this period, we will only have two games of the season left!

“We want to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance.

“Hopefully the last nine games are a really good continuation of the season we haven’t yet finished.

“I would hate to think the games will be drastically different and aren’t going to reflect what we have done for 80% of the season so far.”

In terms of fully planning for the resumption of the season, PNE are awaiting the fixture schedule from the EFL.

Games are set to be played in the order they were on the fixture list before the pandemic struck.

However, kick-off times are going to vary, with them spread out for streaming and broadcasting.

Peter Ridsdale, advisor to PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, said: “When we get a proper schedule, we can plan fully.

“If there is a long-distance game, we need to know the kick-off time and find out if we are able to stay overnight.

“The sooner we have the full schedule, the more we can plan and get everything sorted out.”