Big spenders making life much tougher says Preston North End boss Alex Neil

Lukas Nmecha has been tasked with leading the line since his arrival from Manchester CityLukas Nmecha has been tasked with leading the line since his arrival from Manchester City
Lukas Nmecha has been tasked with leading the line since his arrival from Manchester City
Alex Neil believes the Championship is far tougher than last season because of the money being spent up and down the division.

Preston North End have one of the smaller budgets in the league and have gained plenty of plaudits for their scouting of the lower leagues and Ireland.

Since their return to the second tier the Lilywhites have battled against the amount being spent at the sharp end of the table as sides strive for a place in the Premier League.

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Neil, however, points to the spending power of clubs coming into the division as the difference between this and previous seasons.

Wigan have made a number of additions including former North End favourite Joe Garner and one-time PNE target Josh Windass, the latter costing a reported £2m as he made the move back to English football from Rangers.

“I’d probably say it’s tougher that last year,” said Neil, who is still hoping to add to his squad before the loan window shuts at the end of the month.

“That’s not just because we’ve got less points than we did at this point last year.

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“When you look at it, the teams that have come up have got a lot more financial clout.

“Look at Blackburn and some of the money they’ve been flinging about.

“Wigan have bought Josh Windass, so they are two teams that have outspent us right away.

“In Wigan’s sense that’s on one player.

“They’ve certainly got 
plenty in their locker and you saw that with Wigan winning 3-0 at Stoke the other night.

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“No disrespect to your 
Burtons and teams like that but this league looks to be a lot stronger than last year.”

Neil’s most recent signings have been loans, with both Brandon Barker and Lukas Nmecha arriving from 
Manchester City.

The latter has been thrown straight in at the deep end despite his limited senior 
football as the PNE boss looks to plug the gap left by injuries to Sean Maguire and Billy 
Bodin in the run-up to the campaign.

“I’m basically starting again with a couple of my forwards,” said Neil, whose side have four points from their opening four games ahead of travelling to Derby today.

“Losing Sean and Billy was a big blow for us.

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“They were two key players for me when fit and were ready to kick on again.

“But we’ve got to focus on the lads that are playing at the moment.

“Lukas is a young lad, he’s only 19.

“We are relying on him and Louis Moult to get our goals but we just haven’t been taking our chances.

“That’s not just them, but the whole team.”