Preston North End boss Alex Neil’s rallying cry ahead of Luton Town trip
Alex Neil has assured Preston supporters that his players will be going all out for the play-offs as the Championship resumes tomorrow in its strange new environment.
It is empty grounds and television audiences only for the remainder of the season, but PNE boss Neil says there is a determination among the squad to make the best of it.
North End head to Luton for a fixture which was to be played on March 14 before the Covid-19 pandemic forced a suspension to the season.
More than 100 days later, they will finally make it to Kenilworth Road.
Neil said: “I hope the fans have the belief and understanding of how much it means to the players.
“They will give everything over these remaining nine games.
“I can assure them that these lads are ready and I’m really confident with the lads I have got.
“I know they can’t be there in person with us but I’m hoping they can tune in from home and see how we do.”
Neil knows the rapid-fire run of nine games in 33 days without fans is anything but normal.
He does not use the phrase ‘the new normal’ which has been bandied about in society during the crisis.
Said Neil: “It won’t feel normal, football is not the same without fans – the fans make football.
“When the fans are there in the ground there is no better feeling of winning and sending them home happy.”
Neil will have pretty much a full squad available to select from, and is able to name a matchday squad of 20 and use five substitutes.
Midfielder Ben Pearson missed the last two games before lockdown with a hamstring injury which cleared up long ago. Tom Bayliss and Billy Bodin have been back training with the squad after operations in February, however Louis Moult will not be back until next season from a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.
The PNE players and staff will be split between two coaches for the journey to and from Luton.
Neil said: “We have had to hire two coaches, the players will be spread across them and the coaching staff will have to be split up.
“When we get to the hotel the players will be confined to their rooms apart from to eat.
“We will probably change at the hotel so the lads will be in their strip on the bus.
“Any meetings we have we have to make sure they are conducted in the biggest room or space available.
“There are a lot of changes which have been made but at least we are back.
“The ambition was there to get the season finished without needing to call on points per games.”