Preston North End boss Alex Neil hopes that football will put smiles back on faces

Preston North End manager Alex Neil thinks the eventual resumption of the football season will provide a big lift in society.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 12:12 pm

Although games will be played behind closed doors for many months due to Government advice on social distancing, they are expected to be streamed live.

Neil is working towards a May 16 return to training as things stand in the hope the season can restart in June.

PNE will be guided by the EFL on that and there does seem to be more optimism of such a timetable becoming reality.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

PNE manager Alex Neil with Ben Pearson and Tom Barkhuizen

“The things that bring people together is what you really cherish at times like this,” said Neil.

“Whether your go-to is watching football, going to the pub, darts or playing pool, that is probably what you are missing the most at the moment.

“You can speak to a whole host of people and what they will say is that they want that social interaction back.

“Here at Preston with the football, we hope that quite a lot of the time people see it as good entertainment.

“It’s a social gathering where you have a like-minded interest and people really care about it.

“There is companionship there which is important and hopefully getting started again will give people a lift.”

It is more than seven weeks since PNE last played and six weeks since the EFL and Premier League were suspended.

If May 16 is the day when the North End squad can get back together in person at the training ground, Neil believes they will be in good shape to start back.

The players have had a fitness programme to keep themselves ticking over, and over Easter they were told to ease back to give themselves some downtime.

With the focus on May 16, they are now stepping up the work they do at home.

Neil said: “We’ve had a five-week plan worked out for the players ahead of them coming back in.

“Instead of barraging them with everything at once, we get in touch with them at the start of each week to drip feed what they need to be doing.

“There’s plenty they can do and we can keep a track of the work they are doing.

“The lads have got Strava and things like that which allows them to download the work they have done and their heart rates.

“Staying in contact with the lads is important, whether that is me dropping them a text or the fitness staff speaking to them about the work they are doing.

“When we do get back we will have quite a bit of time to work together and do the type of work we haven’t been able to do for a while,”