Alex Neil wants Preston North End to be at their Sunday best in tricky tie

Alex Neil's focus will be on the FA Cup tomorrow after a busy few days of strengthening the Preston squad.

Saturday, 5th January 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:42 pm
Sean Maguire could return to the Preston squad against Doncaster after a hamstring injury

North End host Doncaster at Deepdale (2pm), the clash on a Sunday to accommodate overseas television broadcast.

Their three new signings Brad Potts, Jayden Stockley and Josh Ginnelly are cup-tied but the numbers could get a boost by the return of some of their walking wounded.

Sean Maguire, Josh Earl, Alan Browne and Brandon Barker are back in training and might make the squad.

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However, PNE boss Neil will assess them closely in training this morning before making that call.

Neil said: “They will be in contention but starting them might be a stretch.

“They have done a lot of work, a lot of running and things to get fit.”

Hamstring injuries of one severity or another have kept Maguire, Browne and Barker sidelined, while Earl has been out with a thigh strain.

If they come through the weekend okay and are joined by the new boys, the squad for next Saturday’s league clash with Swansea will be in its most healthy state for weeks.

Neil expects a big test from a Doncaster side who are the second-highest scorers in League One.

He said: “Cup games have a different feel to them than the league does.

“I’ve watched Doncaster a couple of times and they will be going all out to win.

“They commit plenty of bodies forward and they are going to be a threat.”

While his three buys are not available for the cup, it will afford them something of a settling-in period.

Neil is pleased with the deals done so far,

The Scot said: “For what we have spent we have done some really good business. There will be teams in the Championship who will spend £10m, £15m, £20m on players this window – we are not in that market.

“We will find the best young players that we can – they might not be the finished article and it is my job to try and improve them.

“I think these lads are more ready-made than some we have brought in before.

“There will be a couple of wee tweaks we have to make to fit them in but they’ve played a good number of games and are well versed.

“Last summer we brought in Jordan Storey, who I think is going to be a cracking player.

“He’d only played 17 games and will take time to develop.

“These lads have played more games, they are further down the line.”

Tickets tomorrow are £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and £1 for Under-11s when accompanied by an over-18.