Psychology will play a part in PNE’s Easter double header says Alex Neil

Preston will look to give their push for the top six a big boost when they kick off a crucial Easter programme against Sheffield Wednesday today.

Bringing back three points from Hillsborough would see them go into Easter Monday’s visit of play-off rivals Derby with a head of steam.

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd could return to the Preston side at Sheffield Wednesday today

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd could return to the Preston side at Sheffield Wednesday today

Alex Neil’s outfit travel to Yorkshire trailing Derby and Middlesbrough – who sit fifth and six respectively – by just two points.

With eight matches left, the points on offer over the Easter weekend could play a big part in the final shake-up.

North End manager Neil is looking forward to getting his teeth into the challenge of guiding his players down the final straight.

At this stage of the season and because of what is at stake, Neil says a bit of psychology is needed with the squad as well as the tactical work during the build-up.

Neil said: “Different lads need a different approach.

“Some lads are quite highly strung, they know what it means and are desperate to do well – I don’t really need to add to that.

“There are others who are more laid back, perhaps need a bit of a jolt.

“It is just making sure that everyone is focused.

“We know what we want to achieve this season and we know what we need to do.

“The one thing these boys do is attack every game, they have done that all season.

“They are not going to play well in every game but we don’t play poorly that often.”

Two selection issues for Neil this afternoon will be at left-back and in goal.

Greg Cunningham missed the win at Sunderland before the international break with a hamstring injury.

If he proves his fitness, the Irishman will replace Josh Earl. Goalkeeper Declan Rudd is available after missing the Sunderland game while attending the birth of his son.

Chris Maxwell performed well at the Stadium of Light in Rudd’s absence but he and Billy Bodin only got back from Wales’ trip to China in midweek.

PNE beat Wednesday 1-0 at Deepdale on the opening day of the season.

Neil believes it will be much different Owls side who they meet today, Jos Luhukay having since taken over from Carlos Carvalhal as manager.

“They are unrecognisable from what they were before, both in personnel and how they play,” said Neil.

“You can see they are a well coached team even though their results haven’t been great – that said they have picked up a few points of late.

“The coach deserves a lot of credit because you can see they have clear patterns, he wants to play in a certain style.

“I think they will get better under him.”