Christmas? It's business as usual for Preston North End says boss Alex Neil
Alex Neil says Christmas represents just another day at the office for him and his Preston North End players.
The Lilywhites kick off their festive fixtures at Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon, with four to come in the space of 10 days.
The staff and squad will be in work on Christmas Day before spending time with their families but Neil says it is something that all in the game are more than accustomed to.
That training session will serve as preparation for the Boxing Day game against Hull at Deepdale, with Aston Villa then heading to Lancashire on December 29. A hectic couple of weeks ends with a trip to Rotherham on New Year’s Day.
“The simple fact is that we are professionals working in football, whether that’s a player, coach or whatever it may be,” said the North End manager.
“For as many years as I can remember I’ve been training on Christmas Day. We don’t deem it as a negative or a positive or anything else, it’s just another day at work.
“We just need to get our jobs done and get ourselves prepped and ready.
“The preparation will be the same.
“Everyone’s got families but we need to make sure we approach everything in the right manner.
“The lads are just fine with it all.
“They’ve got their schedule so if they do need to make any plans with their families they know when we are in and when we are off.”
Neil will be a busy man over the festive period but if he could choose, what would the PNE boss find under the tree on December 25?
“Some players back from injury, three points regularly and good performances would be nice,” he said with a smile when asked about his Christmas wishes.
“If I could have it all that’s what I’d be asking for.”
It is just one defeat in 12 Championship games ahead of the trip to Hillsborough with things certainly looking up heading into the busiest part of the season.
Several things have turned in PNE’s favour but key men from last season are also approaching the top of their game again.
Neil singled out young player of the year Ben Davies as one who has shone as the Lilywhites have moved up to 15th in the table.
“Things have come together a bit but most important of all, some players have come into form,” said the PNE manager.
“I think Ben Davies, for example, has been sensational in this 12-game run.
“Ben, by his own admission, would say he didn’t have the best start to this season but recently he’s been excellent.”