Preston North End must make most of home advantage says Alex Neil
Alex Neil knows his Preston North End side have a big few days ahead if they are to continue their upturn in fortunes.
The Lilywhites host Brentford tonight, with Rotherham then visiting Deepdale on Saturday.
PNE – 22nd in the Championship – have stopped the rot either side of the international break with a three-game unbeaten run and will now look to kick on in back-to-back matches on home soil.
“Over the last three or four games we’ve showed signs of picking something up from every game and that’s a positive sign,” said Neil.
“This season our home form has been better.
“We’ve got to try and target these two games and really try and get as many points as we can from them.
“That’s really important for us.”
Brentford come to town in 12th place, Thomas Frank having lost his first game since stepping up from assistant coach to the top job when the Bees went down 1-0 at home to Bristol City on Saturday.
“They play a good brand of football and we’re going to have to be at our very best to match them,” the PNE boss said.
“They’ve got good technical players as well as having good energy and being dynamic.
“I think next to us they are the youngest squad in the league and it makes for a lot of good young players coming together.
“They lost their last game and the new manager will want a win under his belt.”
Last season’s game at Deepdale, which came almost 12 months ago to the day, saw the visitors get the better of a pulsating clash 3-2.
The sides then drew 1-1 at Griffin Park in February.
“They’ve always been one of the teams to watch,” said Neil. “On their day they can cause anyone problems. We gave a really account of ourselves last year and they were really good, entertaining games. I don’t think this one will be any different.”
The PNE boss will be able to call on Ben Pearson once again with the midfielder having served his one-match ban in the 1-1 draw at Hull on Saturday.
Both captain Tom Clarke (groin) and winger Tom Barkhuizen (ankle) missed the trip to the KCOM Stadium and will be assessed ahead of this one.
There is plenty to ponder in terms of team selection for Neil after Louis Moult and others impressed in East Yorkshire.
“There’s very little between a lot of the players and it’s very difficult to decide what your best XI is,” said Neil.
“What you tend to do is if you pick one player because he’s slightly better at one thing but then you’re taking away from something else. That’s where the difficulty comes in.”