Victory over Derby can lift the gloom says Preston North End boss Alex Neil

Alex Neil says rediscovering the winning feeling can lift an air of negativity which he thinks has settled over Preston North End of late.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 8:00 am

The opening-day defeat to Swansea, coupled with the speculation linking Daniel Johnson and Ben Davies with moves away from Deepdale, has created unrest among the fanbase.

It puts the onus on PNE’s visit to Derby County this evening (6.30pm) in the Carabao Cup.

Victory at Pride Park, reasons Neil, would provide a big lift and send them into Saturday’s clash with Norwich in good spirits.

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Joe Rafferty is in line to start Preston’s Carabao Cup tie at Derby tonight

Neil said: “I think at the moment there are probably too many negative vibes surrounding us.

“The way to eradicate that better than anything else is to win a game. We want to focus on winning the next game.

“Hopefully the contract situation resolves itself, the transfer situation resolves itself, hopefully we can try to add to the squad which would make us better.

“If we can come out at the end of this window with all resolved and in good shape, then I will be really pleased.

“What can help is that we win this match.

“If we had won against Swansea, people would have been feeling a bit better about themselves than they might be at the moment.

“So that is the incentive to win the Derby game.”

Neil is likely to flip the squad over and play a number of the players who did not start against Swansea.

That should means games for Joe Rafferty, Tom Bayliss, Darnell Fisher, Josh Harrop, Sean Maguire and Jayden Stockley among others.

Rafferty could be asked to play at left-back, with Josh Earl having injured a glute muscle in training last week.

Said Neil: “There will be certain players who probably felt aggrieved not to have started on Saturday who will be given their opportunity.

“But we will be going strong in the game and we want to win the match, we won’t be taking it lightly.

“I would imagine Derby will be strong too, so it should be a good game.”

Neil says Johnson is ‘in contention’ to face the Rams having sat out the Swansea game in the wake of all the speculation linking him with a move to Rangers.

PNE put out a statement yesterday to deny accepting bids for any of their players of late – some reports claimed they had struck a deal with Rangers to sell Johnson.

Neil says that clarity is needed over the futures of Johnson, Davies, Alan Browne and Ben Pearson who are all in the last year of their contracts.

He does not want the subject to become a distraction both to the players involved and the rest of the squad.