Boss Alex Neil backs Preston North End to regain the form they showed last term ahead of Leeds test
Alex Neil is adamant Preston have not become a poor side overnight as he plots a course out of the lower reaches of the Championship.
PNE are second bottom of the table going into tonight’s clash with league leaders Leeds United at Elland Road.
With only five points on the board from seven games, it is form in contrast to last term’s seventh-place finish.
North End manager Neil said: “Football is simple, you go through difficult spells at times and have good times.
“We finished seventh last season and have not started this season well.
“But it doesn’t mean that these players have gone from being good players to bad.
“It doesn’t mean the way we have been playing has gone from good to bad.
“What we have to do is stick our chests out and say, ‘Let’s prove people wrong and show what we can do’.
“If we don’t have that kind of mentality, we are in the wrong business.
“At some point in football, regardless of how good you are, you will fall on difficult times.
“It is how you react which sets the good from the bad.”
This evening’s assignment in West Yorkshire will be a huge test of character.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are unbeaten in the league but PNE beat them 2-0 in the League Cup three weeks ago.
Selection wise, Neil has a few things to mull over.
He is definitely without the services of suspended pair Ben Pearson and Ryan Ledson.
There is a possibility that Alan Browne could make the trip, the midfielder having missed Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Reading with a calf strain.
But even if Browne does, he might only be fit enough for a seat on the bench.
Josh Harrop is pushing for a start after coming off the bench early in the second half on Saturday.
It will be in Neil’s thinking that Harrop had a good game at Leeds in the cup.
Neil said: “Something which I spoke to the players about after Saturday’s game was how last season we didn’t beat teams 3-0, 4-0 or 5-0.
“What we tended to do was at crucial times in games we made that difference.
“We scored a goal when we were on top, we made a great block when we needed to.
“However we went about it, we found a way to win a game.
“They weren’t always good performances, although don’t get wrong, there were some great performances in there.
“But there were quite a few times when there was nothing in it and we managed to get a goal – that is where your key players become crucial.
“They are the guys which make the difference.
“Sean Maguire must have done that five or six times last season, he got us a lot of points by making the difference.”