Preston North End boss Alex Neil has sympathy for Bolton counterpart Phil Parkinson

Preston boss Alex Neil says the off-field issues at Bolton must have made life tough for his Wanderers counterpart Phil Parkinson.

Finance has regularly been on the Trotters’ agenda this season, with the players not paid their November salaries on time.

Sammy Ameobi and Andrew Hughes challenge for the ball in PNE's 2-2 draw with Bolton at Deepdale

Sammy Ameobi and Andrew Hughes challenge for the ball in PNE's 2-2 draw with Bolton at Deepdale

There is much speculation about the future ownership of the club, with current owner Ken Anderson having been in talks with a consortium about a possible sale.

Neil takes his side down the M61 to the University of Bolton Stadium tomorrow afternoon in search of a continuation of their good form.

But ahead of the derby, he touched on Bolton’s plight.

“It has been really difficult for Phil,” said Neil.

“There was all that talk whether they were going to be paid or not paid.

“That makes it difficult to keep players focused on the job.

“People outside football will see footballers are paid a lot of money, so think, ‘Just crack on’.

“Football is a performance sport though, when you are trying to perform anything you need to nullify everything else out of your mind and focus on the job in hand.

“That is when you perform at your best.

“You see players at their best when they don’t have any worries and everything in their home life is fine.”

After a promising start to the season, Bolton have slid down the table and currently sit second-bottom.

They won three of their first four Championship games and after their 2-2 draw with Preston at Deepdale on September 1, were seventh.

In that game, North End led 2-0 early on, only for Bolton to peg them back by half-time.

Neil said: “This season I have seen Bolton play four times – they work hard and get after the ball.

“I know Steve Parkin there who was my coach when I was a player at Barnsley, and I know Phil from speaking to him.

“They will be up for this one, make no mistake.

“The game at our place is one we have to reflect back on to make sure we learn from it.

“We scored two goals, then they came back into the game.

“At 2-0 we probably thought we had won the game but we hadn’t.

“I think Bolton deserved credit for the way they came back and got a draw.”

Calum Robinson and Alan Browne scored for PNE that day, with Sammy Ameobi and Pawel Olkowski replying.

After the final whistle, Ben Pearson was red-carded for aiming a headbutt at Joe 
Williams.

The pair will not be meeting tomorrow, Everton loanee Williams having been out with a thigh injury since the end of November.

Josh Magennis is Bolton’s leading scorer with seven goals – four in the league.

A Wanderers player who is attracting plenty of attention at the moment is 17-year-old Luca Connell.

There was Premier League interest last month for the midfielder who has made four appearances.