Fine margins could make difference in play-off race says Preston boss Alex Neil

Alex Neil has warned Preston that '˜fine margins' will have to tilt in their favour as they push for a play-off place over the last eight games.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 29th March 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th March 2018, 9:11 am

The Lilywhites start their final run-in against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow, with PNE boss Neil excited by the challenge ahead.

Neil highlights two games recently where fine margins have gone both for and against his side.

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Greg Cunningham could return for PNE at Sheffield Wednesday.

Over the next few weeks they need more going in their favour if the gap between them and the top six is to be bridged.

“We are working with fine margins at the top end of the table,” said Neil.

“The slightest mistake or that bit of quality can see you go on to win or lose the game.

“When you look at recent matches that has been the case with us.

Greg Cunningham could return for PNE at Sheffield Wednesday.

“Sean Maguire showed a bit of quality against Bristol City and won us the match.

“In the next game we switched off for one moment against Fulham and we lost.

“A lot of people will say you will win if you deserve to win.

“Sometimes that is not the case, we are at that stage of the season where a bit of detail can make all the difference.

“The points are the most important thing, what can make the difference is taking an opportunity to making a save or block.

“It is exciting, we’d much rather be in this position than see the season peter out.”

Neil’s main selection issue for the Good Friday clash will involve Greg Cunningham.

The left-back missed PNE’s win at Sunderland before the international break with a tight hamstring.

It also forced Cunningham to pull out of the Republic of Ireland squad for the friendly against Turkey.

Josh Earl took his place for the Sunderland game and put in a strong performance at the Stadium of Light.

North End’s back four has certainly had its fair share of disruption this season.

Cunningham missed four months of action earlier in the campaign, while Tom Clarke, Ben Davies, Tommy Spurr, Darnell Fisher and Earl have all had spells on the sidelines.

But Neil’s men still boast the fifth joint meanest defence in the Championship.

Said Neil: “We’ve had to cope with a lot of injuries at the back this season.

“So our defensive record is a huge plus point when you bear that in mind.

“A lot of the injuries have been contact injuries and most of them have happened in games.

“Very few of the injuries have occurred in training.

“Tommy Spurr’s injury in the first part of the season came during a practice game.

“I don’t think we would have lost all those games we did if the players had been available then.”