The heat is on as Alex Neil takes his Preston North End team to the Riverside Stadium

Alex Neil will be under intense scrutiny from the Preston North End faithful in the visit to Middlesbrough tonight as he looks for a rapid response to the Wycombe setback.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites head to the Riverside Stadium (7pm) in need of a pick-me-up, both from a short-term and longer-term point of view.

Saturday’s woeful show at Wycombe has to be jettisoned from the system while there is the need for points to be put in the board.

Although PNE occupy a mid-table slot they will not want to risk being dragged lower and having an uncomfortable last stage of the season.

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Defender Liam Lindsay

They will be down to single figures of games after tonight and have some tough fixtures after the international break.

Over Easter they host leaders Norwich and then go to Swansea who are third. Then it is Brentford who are also in the groups of clubs chasing promotion.

So coming home with a positive result from Teesside would be most welcome.

Three wins, three draws and eight defeats this year has turned the pressure on Neil from the supporters, the criticism intense after the Wycombe defeat.

Neil said: “Saturday was a sore one, naturally we were very disappointed.

“With the schedule being how it is, we’ve not got time to dwell on it and I’ve got to get the lads ready for the next one against Middlesbrough.

“Football is so polarised at the moment, we had a strong second-half display against Bournemouth when we got a good point and were really quite pleased with ourselves.

“Then a few days later we went and got beat in the manner we did at Wycombe.

“They are the highs and lows of football, we have to try and keep on an even keel. There needs to be a willingness to put things right and we’ll be trying to do that.

“Expectation in football is high everywhere. In my opinion we have had a really steady and solid three years and the expectation here is to do better. Are we capable of doing that? That will be decided in the next 10 games.”

Neil is likely to tweak the side tonight in response to losing at Wycombe.

He has Liam Lindsay back in the frame after injury and the Scot would offer a better balance to the defence being left-footed.

Lindsay was on the bench at Wycombe but having had only limited training time, was someone Neil had in mind only for late in the game.

With two more training sessions since, he could be more of an option.

Said Neil: “Had things gone differently at Wycombe, we could have used Liam for the last 15 minutes to head stuff out of the box. The game didn’t work out that way though.”

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