Good form has led to high-stakes Wolves clash says Preston boss Alex Neil

Alex Neil is hoping his players thrive on the big stage when Championship leaders Wolves visit Deepdale on Saturday.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 16th February 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 16th February 2018, 9:30 am

This weekend’s visitors are 12 points clear at the top of the table and look set for a return to the Premier League after six years away.

There are also 5,600 fans making the trip in a sold-out away end.

But Neil believes PNE’s fine run of just one defeat in 15 league games has set them up for this acid test.

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Ben Davies looks set to be available again after injury as Preston host Wolves

“Because of how we’ve performed this season we’ve generated these types of games,” the North End boss.

“If we hadn’t been performing well then I’m not sure it would be a packed house because nobody would be really that bothered.

“The fact is we’ve done very well this year, hence the reason why fans want to come and see it. We’re playing the league leaders who have also performed very well.

“As players, as coaches, as managers, we want to be involved in these types of games because they are 
high-pressure situations and are where you will be judged.”

Ben Davies looks set to be available again after injury as Preston host Wolves

Wolves may have big ambitions beyond just a return to the top flight but PNE have themselves to think about, knowing they are just three points shy of the 
play-offs in seventh place.

With second-in-the-table Aston Villa to follow on Tuesday it is a case of trying to stay in the mix in the coming days.

“We’re not at the stage where if you win you’re going to go up or if you lose it you’re not going to go up,” Neil said.

“We are at the stage where we need to keep performing well and we want to try and get as many points on the board as quickly as possible because, if not you, can leave yourself too much to do.

“We need to make sure, particularly with these next couple of games coming up, that we’re still within striking distance of the play-offs.”

A desire to keep in touch does not mean Neil will not send his side into battle on the front foot, however.

“We don’t ever set up to draw,” he said.

“I don’t think people would describe us as a defensive team.

“We don’t sit behind the ball and sit in our own half. We get at the opposition, it’s just sometimes we’ve maybe lacked that bit of quality to tip it from one point to three points on occasions.

“We’ve scored six goals in three games now though, so hopefully the goals are coming.”

Ben Davies looks set to be available again at the back after his hamstring injury but Tom Clarke and Paul Gallagher could miss out.

Greg Cunningham serves a suspension after his red card at Brentford, while Ben Pearson also completes his two-match ban.