Strength in depth in Carabao Cup win gives Preston boss Alex Neil plenty to ponder
Preston boss Alex Neil knows he has tough decisions to make going forwards after seeing a completely different line-up ease past Morecambe in the first round of the League Cup.
The North End manager made 11 changes from last Saturday’s defeat to Swansea for the 3-1 win over the League Two side last night.
Brandon Barker, Louis Moult and Graham Burke got the goals as PNE booked their place in Thursday night’s second round draw.
“You could see there is very little between a lot of players I’ve got,” Neil said.
“The squad has got quality and depth that it hasn’t had before.
“Picking a starting XI for any game is tough and certainly the lads went out and got the job done and put some good performances in.
“Come the weekend I’ve got decisions to make. The lads in the second half at Swansea performed very well but we lost the game, the lads against Morecambe, albeit against lower league opposition, put good performances in.
“They can only play against what’s in front of them though.
“We’ll look at who we’re playing against and the team will really be based on that, as well as what the lads have delivered in previous matches.”
Barker, Burke, Jordan Storey and Ryan Ledson made their full debuts for the Lilywhites with Neil pleased with what he saw from back to front.
“The new lads have been trying to adapt to how we play because we have got a different style to most teams and it does take a bit of bedding in at times,” said the PNE boss.
“I thought they acquitted themselves really well.
“There was good quality throughout the game from all the lads and defensively our shape was good.”
The win came 12 months after defeat at Accrington Stanley when Neil also made a host of changes in the League Cup first round.
Now though he is eyeing a potential cup run in the months to come.
“Last year’s defeat to Accrington was a disappointment for everybody,” he said.
“I’m not had a great record in cups but that’s because my focus has been elsewhere.
“But I feel that my squad here is strong enough that I can compete on both fronts and still have two really competitive teams.”
The only downside of the night was Calum Woods being forced off late in the first period as his hamstring problem returned.
“We’re all gutted for Calum,” said Neil.
“We try to get him going as much as we can and that hamstring just seems to be breaking down too often.
“We’re disappointed but hopefully we can get it better as soon as possible and make it as strong as we can and then hope we can keep him injury free.”