Midfield dilemma for Preston North End boss Alex Neil ahead of Brentford trip

Preston's midfield will be at the centre of Alex Neil's thoughts in the build-up to the trip to Brentford tomorrow.

Friday, 9th February 2018, 5:00 am

The Lilywhites make the trip to London without Ben Pearson who is suspended, his ban leaving a big hole to fill in the engine room.

It could open the door for a rare Championship outing for John Welsh, the 34-year-old last seeing action in the league in November.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

John Welsh is an option to replace Ben Pearson in Prestons midfield at Brentford

He started both FA Cup games against Wycombe and Sheffield United though.

Another option could be to move Alan Browne back into a deeper role.

Neil said: “We wanted to try and make an acquisition in that area as everyone is aware but we didn’t manage to get that done.

“But we think we have good enough players and good lads to do a job. You are maybe asking someone, depending on who it is, to do something which doesn’t come naturally to them.

John Welsh is an option to replace Ben Pearson in Prestons midfield at Brentford

“We have John Welsh who has played there in the past and done a really good job for us. What we’ll do is make the best decision based on how we see the game going.”

Welsh has started six games this season and come on a substitute three times.

So could the Griffin Park clash be an opportunity for him to get another run-out?

Said Neil: “John came in against Cardiff at home when we won 3-0.

“That game was perfect for John – Cardiff were playing in to Zohore up front and John sat in front and screened the first ball into the striker.

“He mopped up things in front of him and did that very well indeed.

“Brentford are different in that respect, they are dynamic and mobile in the middle of the pitch.

“They drop off into areas that you don’t really want to go into – they don’t really go back to front.

“It becomes a different proposition and is something we need to look at.

“We want to put players in their best position if we can, we don’t want to knock it too much out of kilter.

“If players are playing well, you want to keep them there if you can.”

Aside from who to replace Pearson with, another issue for Neil tomorrow could come in the back four.

But it would be a selection issue of a better kind should Ben Davies prove his fitness after a hamstring strain.

Davies limped off against Birmingham three weeks ago, soon after scoring his first goal in PNE colours.

The centre-half has been making good progress with Neil reporting after the win over Hull that he, ‘Wouldn’t be long at all’.

North End will be backed by around 1,000 supporters in London.