Preston North End could have Ben Davies back for Boxing Day visit to Leeds United

Preston North End could have Ben Davies back in the squad for the Boxing Day clash with Leeds United at Elland Road.

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 23rd December 2019, 12:25 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 12:26 pm
Preston defender Ben Davies challenges Leeds United's Stuart Dallas at Deepdale in October
Preston defender Ben Davies challenges Leeds United's Stuart Dallas at Deepdale in October

Davies went over on his ankle in the 1-0 defeat at Derby a month ago and hasn’t played since.

The centre-half travelled with the squad to Saturday’s game at Cardiff but it was decided he wasn’t quite ready.

Speaking at the Springfields training ground on Monday morning, Neil said: “Ben was in contention to play at Cardiff and we made a last minute call on him.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Ben Davies could return to the Preston squad at Leeds on Boxing Day

“He will train over the next couple of days and be in contention for Leeds.

“We are coming through quite well at the moment with injuries.

“There are a couple of suspensions just now but they will clear up too after the Leeds game.”

Neil, meanwhile, says he will be able to enter into the Christmas spirit as well as giving his full focus to North End’s festive matches.

Preston manager Alex Neil

The teatime clash at Elland Road (5.15pm) starts it all off, then it is back to Deepdale to face Reading on Sunday afternoon and Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day.

North End then face Neil’s former club Norwich in the FA Cup on January 4 at Deepdale.

While the build-up to those games will involve a lot of preparation both on the training pitch and off it in front of the DVD player, Neil will find the time to celebrate with his family.

“I’m getting better and better at switching off when I’m not at the training ground,” said Neil.

“When we are in, we are in, we work long hours. I’m at the stage where I know what I have to do.

“Today (Monday) will be a long day, all the prep work has to be done for Leeds.

“I don’t like to go home thinking who is going to play wide left or things like that.

“Once I’ve done the work, know what is coming and I’m happy with what we are going to do, I have done my job.

“If I’m not at that point, I will put myself away until I’m satisfied.”

The visit to Leeds is a tough Boxing Day assignment but one Neil will relish.

Neil is a big admirer of his Leeds counterpart Marcelo Bielsa and the style of football he gets the West Yorkshire outfit to play.

While Leeds did the league double over North End last season, PNE knocked them out of the League Cup with a 2-0 win at Elland Road in August 2018.

In October, the sides fought out a 1-1 draw at Deepdale with Tom Barkhuizen on target for Preston.