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"We need to get out of this rut": Alex Neil knows Preston North End's worrying start has to end quickly

Alex Neil admitted his Preston North End side were in a “rut” and that they need to kickstart their season sooner rather than later.

ALSO READ: Alex Neil's initial reaction to Leeds defeat

PNE were well beaten at Elland Road last night

PNE were well beaten at Elland Road last night

The Lilywhites were well beaten 3-0 by Championship leaders Leeds United at Elland Road last night.

It leaves PNE second from bottom having not won since the opening day victory over Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale.

Tyler Roberts’ late double completed the victory for a rampant Leeds after captain Liam Cooper had opened the scoring with a first-half header which somehow got past both goalkeeper Declan Rudd and Daniel Johnson on the post.

“We need to get ourselves out of the rut we’re in at the moment,” said Neil.

“But the only way to do that is to play better and when we do get opportunities take them.

“I think out of the games we’ve played this season we’ve only been in the lead twice.

“That first goal is absolutely crucial and to lose it in the manner that we did always makes it an uphill task.

“The lads are keeping their heads up but there’s always a lack of confidence when you’re not winning.

“I don’t think that matters what club you’re at or where you are.

“If you go to any team that’s not won games then naturally they’re not going to be that confident but one or two wins can quickly change that.

“At the end of the day we’re in top-level sport.

“You need to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in or it’s just going to pass you by.”

It was a long night for North End with Neil pointing to the absence of his key men for a game against one of the division’s fancied sides.

Alan Browne did return from a calf injury but Ben Pearson was serving the second match of his three-game ban in the middle of the park.

“We’ve lost a lot of key players,” said Neil.

“Ben Pearson is missing, Alan Browne to be fair to him made himself available to play but realistically isn’t 100 per cent fit.

“We’re missing Sean Maguire and Billy Bodin as well and the lads that we’ve brought in are young lads and they will need time.”

Browne lasted 79 minutes before being replaced with Neil making sure last season’s player of the year wasn’t risked unnecessarily.

“They scored the second goal and we weren’t going to win the game at that stage,” said the PNE boss.

“I needed to try and protect him because he’s at an elevated risk of getting injured for the last 15 minutes.

“He needed replacing at that point because once the game is done there’s no point chasing a lost cause.

“We didn’t show enough in that match to suggest to me that after the second goal we were going to go on and get anything.”