Preston North End boss encouraged by his side's ability to adapt

Alex Neil is delighted with the flexibility being shown by his Preston squad.

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 5:00 am
Alex Neil saw his tactical tweaks come up trumps against Sheffield United on Saturday (photo: Dave Kendall)

North End switched shape three times in their 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Deepdale on Saturday as they recorded a third straight victory.

Neil started with a 4-4-2 diamond, Callum Robinson in behind strikers Jordan Hugill and Tom Barkhuizen, both of whom started from wide positions.

That became a more conventional 4-3-3 before the diamond returned in the second half with the introductions of Josh Harrop and Alan Browne from the bench.

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It all added up to PNE blunting the largely prolific Blades to move within two points of the play-offs.

“We’d worked on both shapes all week but we’ve probably got a Plan A, B, C and D,” said Neil, whose side next host Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

“We changed shape three times on Saturday and the players did it quite easily.

“One thing we do in training, particularly when we’re working against different shapes is we put the lads in that shape to get a feel for it.

“Then what we’ll do is drills for and against it so they know how it feels to defend against it and how it feels to attack against it and where the weaknesses are.

“What I’ve got is a clever squad who are young, hungry and want to learn.

“It’s really, really easy and simple for me to put my ideas across and they take them on board and then carry them out on the pitch.”