League Cup matters says Alex Neil as Preston North End host Morecambe in round one
Alex Neil thinks a good run in the League Cup would give him the chance to keep all of the Preston squad happy.
The PNE manager is likely to rotate the squad heavily for this evening’s first round clash with Morecambe at Deepdale .
He is keen to get players game time, Neil strong in his belief that all his squad are on an even par with each other.
North End fell at the first hurdle against Accrington at this stage of the competition last year and will be anxious to avoid a repeat when the Shrimps head down the M6.
Arguably they have more strength in depth 12 months on, with Neil keen for that to be on show tonight (7.45pm).
Neil said: “I would think this is one of the first times where I think for us, the cup competitions are important because I look at my squad and I have a lot of good players.
“To keep them all properly functioning and playing, we need a cup run this year.
“They need a good cup run to ensure everyone is playing competitive football as the season goes on.
“We don’t have an Under-23s here or a reserve team, so we have to arrange friendlies for the lads who aren’t getting game time.
“They will never take the place of a proper game, so to get on a good cup run would give lads competitive football.
“It is great for some of the lads to say ’I should be playing, look at what I delivered’.
“This is an opportunity for them, certainly after losing at the weekend, for some of the lads to show what they are all about.”
There could be first PNE starts for summer buys Ryan Ledson, Graham Burke and Jordan Storey.
Ledson and Burke have been on as subs but Storey is yet to make a match day squad.
Paul Huntington, Daniel Johnson, Paul Gallagher and Josh Earl are among others who could start.
Brandon Barker could also be in line to start after coming off the bench in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Swansea.
In the technical area with Neil will be Morecambe boss Jim Bentley who during the summer became the longest serving manager in the top four divisions of the English game.
Neil said: “You have got to give Jim huge credit for what he has done at Morecambe.
“He is in that job because he has done extremely well.
“Every year they start the season as one of the favourites to go down and every year they have defied the odds.
“We know this is going to be a tough game.
“I know Jim from when we played them in pre-season last year, he’s a lovely fella who works really hard.
“We will have to perform well on the night, Morecambe will be giving it everything.
“We can’t just rock up and expect to win the game.”