North End boss happy to rotate players

Alex Neil says his rotation of certain roles in the Preston squad is not a '˜difficult sell' to the players.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 16th September 2017, 6:00 am
Tommy Spurr (above) made way for Ben Davies in midweek
Tommy Spurr (above) made way for Ben Davies in midweek

While a number of players seemed to have nailed down a regular place, PNE manager Neil has swapped and changed between others.

An example is in the centre of defence where Ben Davies and Tommy Spurr have been alternated as partner for Paul Huntington.

Spurr put in a fine display against Barnsley last week but made way for Davies in the 3-0 win over Cardiff City.

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Further up the pitch, Josh Harrop has been in and out of the starting XI.

Neil told the Post: “People talk about consistency and continuity in picking the same players but the modern game has moved on from that.

“There are key fixtures in your team who are always there but then there are other positions you can rotate.

“It is not a difficult sell to the players.

“Look at Ben Davies, he was a young kid who last season wasn’t wanted here so was put out on loan to Fleetwood.

“Tommy Spurr didn’t play a lot last season.

“They are in a position now where every single week they are in my thoughts.

“If I find the game suits them, they go into the team.

“As a player, that is surely a better position to be in than not being wanted and going out on loan.

“So it is not a difficult sell to the lads.

“After the Cardiff game I said to the lads that we are a squad, not a starting XI.

“We are bigger than any one player – if that one player in my opinion isn’t going to be best suited to win us the game, I would have no qualms about turning them out and putting someone else in.

“It is about us as a team and about Preston North End.”

Today, Neil takes PNE to St Andrews to face Birmingham, looking to build on a solid start to the season.

He has enjoyed his first two months at the Deepdale helm, the chance of working with a young squad, something which has been a big bonus.

Said Neil: “The boys are an absolute dream to work with.

“The one thing you always get with younger players is that they will listen to every word you tell them.

“When you get a lot older players, some of them seem to think they know better and the team can suffer as a result.

“This group of lads do as I ask of them and if they don’t do it well enough, it is not through a lack of effort – more that they just didn’t perform on the day.

“That is something that as a manager you can live with.

“I’m not going to get everything right all the time either, we all try our best.

“I love getting out on the pitches with them – we work really hard.”