The Lilywhites boss’ lack of numbers in the final third have deprived him of options and the ability to really shake up a game from the bench.
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Then turn around and there should be someone staring at you who can mix it up.
It’s been something PNE have used more than most this season according to one statistic.
In the top four divisions in England North End are second when it comes to goals scored by substitutes with eight.
In terms of the 92 Football League clubs, Neil’s side are in lofty company.
Arsenal lead the way with nine, Chelsea also have eight while current top flight leaders Liverpool are on seven.
PNE’s goals from the bench have come from just three different players.
Louis Moult and Paul Gallagher have got three each while Daniel Johnson has two.
Neil clearly took note of what impact the trio made as replacements as they have all been regulars in recent weeks, Moult only dropping out due to a poorly-timed hamstring niggle.
All three were of course on target in the remarkable 3-3 draw at Aston Villa that helped kickstart PNE’s season to a degree as they lifted themselves away from the foot of the Championship table.
Johnson also scored in a game with another frantic finale, the 3-2 defeat at Sheffield United back in September.
Moult scored a key equaliser at Hull and in the resounding 4-1 win over Blackburn at Deepdale, also turning provider for Alan Browne.
Gallagher was on target in another big home victory, bagging a late penalty when Wigan were swept aside 4-0 at Deepdale.
His other of course came in the 1-1 draw at Ipswich.
It’s almost easy to forget that he scored with a low free-kick moments before coming on because that wasn’t his most noteworthy contribution of the afternoon of Portman Road.
It was of course keeping a clean sheet when forced to go in goal after Chris Maxwell’s red card.
It’s certainly been an eventful year for PNE’s substitutes meaning a threadbare squad is hitting Neil hard. Fingers crossed that will have changed by the end of January.