Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce tips PNE to push for top six

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce thinks Preston have an '˜outstanding' opportunity of making the play-offs.
Bruce is impressed by PrestonBruce is impressed by Preston
Bruce is impressed by Preston

The Lilywhites were the better team for long spells in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Villa, and it needed a soft 
penalty to haul Bruce’s men back into the game.

Referencing the fact that North End are on a run of one league defeat in 17 matches, Bruce said: “That is a hell of an achievement.

“They will be there or thereabouts at the end.

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“Preston are tough, have got 70-odd yellow cards, they get wired into you.

“They make it difficult, they are physical and there is nothing wrong with that.

“The two wide players have exceptional quality, the boy Tom Barkhuizen is a quality player.

“Their centre-halves are well balanced, the keeper is decent – they are a very good all-round side.

“Can they make the play-offs?

“They have an outstanding chance.”

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Bruce said that Villa had found it hard going against PNE, in the first half in particular.

Barkhuizen gave Preston the lead with an overhead kick.

Said Bruce: “You can see why they are at the top end of the league, they are a very good Championship team.

“Preston have a fantastic work ethic and have got a lot of players who in this league are a threat to anybody.

“In the first half we found it difficult and in the second we went a bit more direct.

“It worked for a while but still Preston were a threat.

“That was my big concern when we were playing what was effectively a 4-2-4, it was a difficult game.”