Alex Neil leaving no stone unturned in bid to fix Preston North End's problems

Alex Neil admits he is going '˜squared eyed' as he attempts to find a solution to Preston's poor Championship form.

Friday, 21st September 2018, 6:00 am

PNE head to Bramall Lane tomorrow to take on Sheffield United without a win in their last seven league games.

It is a sequence which has left them second-bottom of the table and is keeping North End boss Neil busy searching for a quick fix.

Naturally the poor run is playing on the minds of both players and manager, not to mention the fans who are growing increasingly anxious.

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Chris Maxwell (above) is pushing Declan Rudd for the Preston goalkeeper's position

Neil said: “It is playing on the players’ minds, there is no question about that.

“It plays on my mind all the time and I’m trying to make sure I get it right to fix it.

“When you are winning games you don’t have a care in the world.

“You come in to do your work with no problems and are thinking, ‘Excellent, I’ll get the boys going and get them ready for the weekend’.

“But when it is not going well it is a lot different.

“My eyes are going square trying to come up with ways and patterns to help get the most out of them.

“I would be lying to say it doesn’t concern me and I’m spending a lot of time looking to put things right.”

One issue which is certain to be on Neil’s mind is whether to go for a change of keeper.

Declan Rudd has been out of form and Chris Maxwell is waiting for his chance.

Rudd has started all of the league games to date, with Maxwell playing the two League Cup ties.

Neil offered no hints as to whether there would be a change, preferring to look at PNE’s struggles as a whole.

“If I’m being honest I have got to look from top to bottom of figuring out what is the best way to go about it,” said Neil.

“Highlighting the keeper position or any other position as an individual would be very unfair.

“We have to look at it all, who is doing enough, who is not doing enough, what are the best combinations to try and win the game.”

Neil’s outfield options will get a boost tomorrow with the return of Ryan Ledson after suspension.

The midfielder has served a three-match ban for a red card at Leeds in the League Cup last month.

With Alan Browne back in the fray in midweek after a calf strain, the engine room is near to being fully staffed.

Ben Pearson serves the last game of his ban tomorrow and will be available for the visit of Middlesbrough to Deepdale on Tuesday.

Said Neil: “It is nice to be getting people back.

“We missed Paul Gallagher for three games, Ryan Ledson and Ben Pearson.

“Losing a lot of key players last season damaged us and has done so again this time.”