Variety can be the spice of life says Preston boss Alex Neil

Alex Neil believes his Preston squad must have a degree of flexibility to help with a tilt at promotion next season.

Saturday, 19th May 2018, 7:00 am
Preston captain Tom Clarke

While in the main he wants round pegs in round holes, the PNE boss says the ability of some players to play a variety of roles will be vital during the course of the campaign.

He wants that in different areas of the pitch, although it is further forward where a lot of versatility currently is.

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Neil will be looking to work with a 24-man squad, give or take a couple of players.

Other managers with have a different view of what is the ideal sized squad.

If players can play more than one role comfortably, it will be of benefit to Neil.

“I suppose all managers are a bit different when it comes to the size of squad they want,” Neil told the Post.

“But I’m really comfortable with a 24-man squad and that includes all my goalkeepers.

“Generally I like to have two players per position and what I do like is real flexibility with some of my players.

“I want some of them to be able to play maybe three or four positions.

“When you look at what we have at the moment, we have flexible lads.

“Just as an example there is Tom Clarke who can play right centre-back and right-back.

“Then you have got Alan Browne can play anywhere in the middle of the pitch, at six, eight or as a number 10.

“Tom Barkhuizen can play anywhere across the front line, so can Callum Robinson and so can Sean Maguire.

“That type of player is so crucial, you need them for a good, strong competitive squad.”

As things stand, Neil has 31 professionals at Deepdale.

That includes five players who spent part of the season on loan at League One clubs.

They are Eoin Doyle, Kevin O’Connor, Andy Boyle, Ben Pringle and Marnick Vermijl.

North End are looking to offload the quintet during the summer.

There are four keepers in the squad, with Mat Hudson and Callum Roberts nearing the end of their contracts.

The club have not said yet revealed if there are new deals on the table for them.

Paul Gallagher is the other player in the squad nearing the end of his current deal.

Preston have offered him a one-year contract and have yet to hear back his answer.

But it is understood he is looking for two years.

North End did their first piece of incoming business on Thursday when they signed Ryan Ledson from Oxford.

Club officials are working on trying to get more deals done, the aim to try and get as much done early.

Neil ideally wants his full squad available for as much of the pre-season programme as possible, the Ledson deal a good start.