Preston North End boss Alex Neil wants to see good run continue in high stakes Millwall clash

Alex Neil has backed Preston to meet the challenge of their '˜high pressure' clash against Millwall tomorrow.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 8:32 am

PNE manager Neil sees it as an opportunity to try and put further distance between them and the group of clubs towards the foot of the table.

Last week’s away victory at Nottingham Forest saw North End move up to 15th place.

They are six points better off than tomorrow’s visitors who are fourth bottom.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Daniel Johnson battles with Nottingham Forest's Joao Carvalho

Neil said: “I think we have had some high pressure games this season.

“Wigan here was a high pressure game, so was the Blackburn game.

“You saw how we played in those two.

“I think this next one is a high pressure game because we know that if we can win, we can put a little bit more distance between ourselves and some of the teams down at the bottom end.

“Millwall will be fully aware of that and will be looking to make things difficult for us.

“We’ve got home advantage and want to make that count.

“Our home form has been pretty good this season.

“We’ll go into the game with confidence but at the same time understanding how hard it is going to be.”

On the selection front, Neil hopes to have Ben Pearson back from a thigh injury.

That would further boost a midfield department which welcomed Daniel Johnson back last week.

While the engine-room gets its numbers up, it is at the top end of the pitch where Neil’s problems are.

Brandon Barker has been ruled out for the next few weeks with a hamstring strain, joining Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson, Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop on Preston’s injured list.

Lukas Nmecha is Barker’s likely replacement, having come on for him at Forest and playing in an attacking role down the right-wing.

Tom Barkhuizen moved over to the left with Louis Moult leading the attack down the middle.

“I thought Lukas made a real impact when he came on last week,” said Neil.

“He set up Louis’ goal, put in a very mature display and worked really hard for the team.

“The top end of the pitch is an area where we are short at the moment.”

Bearing in mind the injury issues, Neil is delighted with North End’s form of just one defeat in 11 games.

Neil said: “I don’t think there are many teams who could absorb being without the number of stalwarts we have and still win matches regularly.

“What we have done in the last 11 matches is remarkable.

“Earlier in the season we went through a sticky spell but we have come out of it at the other end.”