Alex Neil explains why an Under-23s side is not an option for Preston North End

Preston manager Alex Neil says an Under-23s side isn't in the pipeline at Deepdale as a way of keeping first-team squad players match fit.

Saturday, 15th December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Saturday, 15th December 2018, 9:23 am
Preston North End manager Alex Neil

The Lilywhites have used behind closed doors bounce games in recent years to give players a run out.

But opposition for those matches have been in short supply this season.

It was a concern for Neil that he was having to throw some players into first-team action to cover injuries having not played much football.

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That did beg the question of whether a reserve team was a possibility, it being in 2012 that PNE last had a second string side.

Neil has now taken steps to organise a schedule of bounce games covering the remainder of the campaign.

In terms of an Under-23s/reserve side, Neil said: “We have got a first-team and an Under-18s.

“The problem we have got is supplementing an Under-23s team.

“All the money put into the first-team to try and have the best starting XI and have the best players available to us in the squad would be diluted to help fund the Under-23s.

“You could create an Under-23s but it would mean money coming from somewhere else which would be the first-team.

“Are you better having 35 players a lot of who are ‘okay’, or are you better having 22 or 23 players who are very good?

“In my eyes we are better going down the latter line.”

With regards bounce games at the training ground, PNE have played a number of clubs in the past.

They managed to arrange a couple earlier on in the season but they have dried up of late.

“It’s something we have been looking at,” said Neil.

“We have now put plans in place, we are probably booked out from now to the end of the season for bounce games.

“You are not playing them every week, just every now and then when you have a gap in the schedule.

“For whatever reason, they have been difficult to come by recently.

“The Checkatrade Trophy hasn’t helped because a lot of the teams who we play in the bounce games are from League One and League Two and have a lot of games in that competition to fit in.

“Often the lads who those clubs would play in bounce games are getting a game in the Checkatrade Trophy.

“Teams in your own league don’t generally want to play you and Premier League clubs can’t fit you in.

“We actually had a bounce game pencilled in the other week but the Under-18s were playing their FA Youth Cup tie.

“Usually we would involve some of the kids but they had the cup game.

“It meant I only had six fit players available.”