Boss Alex Neil is looking for right balance from Preston North End

Alex Neil admits that Preston quickly need to find a balance to their play to kick-start the Championship campaign.

Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 6:00 am
Daniel Johnson is a midfield option for Preston's return to action against Reading this weekend

The Lilywhites are back in action on Saturday when they host Reading at Deepdale, the start of a spell of seven games in three weeks.

There has been a big 
contrast between the home and away form in the league.

Their five points have all come at home, with a win over QPR followed by 2-2 draws with Stoke and Bolton.

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On the road, North End have lost to Swansea, Derby and Norwich without finding the net.

A 2-0 victory at Leeds in the League Cup gave them their one piece of away-day joy.

While Neil’s men have shown they can score on home turf, annoyingly they have let slip leads against both Stoke and Bolton. Away, they have not been able to turn spells of pressure into goals.

“The difficulty we have had is finding a solution between being threatening going forward and being solid going the other way,” said PNE boss Neil.

“We scored against Stoke, conceded, scored again and then conceded a second time.

“Against Bolton we were two goals ahead then bang, bang – they scored twice.

“The threat which we are carrying going forward is, at the moment, being negated by the opposition damaging us going the other way.”

Neil takes the view that the pre-season injuries to Sean Maguire and Billy Bodin are still having an affect.

Their absence has been felt away from home when the blank ‘goals for’ column is considered.

“If I’m being honest I had my front three pretty much set and then two of them got injured,” said Neil.

“I’m not necessarily 
saying that was my definite front three but out of probably four or five bodies, they were the guys very much in position.

“You are half having to start again really to get information into players.

“It might take a little bit of time but we will get there.”

North End’s cause has not been helped either with the suspensions in midfield.

That is ongoing, with Ben Pearson sitting out the next three games and Ryan Ledson having two more matches of his ban to serve.

Those red cards came on the back of a three-game ban for Paul Gallagher.

With Alan Browne having treatment on a calf injury picked up training with the Republic of Ireland, suddenly the midfield options look thin on the ground.

Gallagher, Daniel Johnson and Josh Harrop are the three senior midfielders available to Neil at the moment.

Johnson recently returned to the frame after overcoming an injury and signing a new contract.