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First Team News

Neil Hoping To Cement Solid Start

25 August 2017

Alex Neil is hoping his side can get a positive result at Middlesbrough on Saturday to end the first month of the season on a high.

The gaffer is pleased with the start his team have made to the Championship campaign and although he feels it's a good start regardless of Saturday's result, the PNE boss knows the trip to the Riverside is a chance to show everyone that North End mean business this year.

Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of the game, Neil said: "I think regardless of the result this weekend I think we've had a good start. I think having seven points at this stage, certainly having played teams who are fancied to be around the top six and even for promotion, we've done extremely well.

"Middlesbrough is another opportunity for us to go and cement that good start and show everybody that we are tailored and ready to have a good season this year.

Neil also spoke of the importance of picking up points early in the season, something that North End have struggled with in the past two seasons.

"I think it's important to get points on the board early doors, it sort of takes the pressure off you having to have a good run at some stage.

"If we can get the points on the board, then we can keep that momentum going and get the confidence of the lads up then you never know what can happen from there.

"I think we've shown all of the signs at the moment that we're going to be competitive and we are capable of beating anybody on our day.

On this weekend's opposition, Neil is expecting a tough test against Garry Monk's side who return to the Championship after a year in the top flight, but the 36-year-old isn't expecting it to be easy for Boro this season.

"It's difficult when you come down from the Premier League because if you come down from the Premier League you aren't used to winning games, trying to change the mentality as much as anything else can prove to be challenging.

"I think Garry has brought in quite a few players which I think helps the turnover of the group but he's also got a lot of players to try and keep happy which can prove to be difficult.

"I think the last time I checked they had five out and out centre forwards so it can prove to be challenging but they will be a decent side, there's no question about it.

"On their day they are going to be a good team and we are going to have to make sure we play well.

The manager is hoping to have the backing of a strong away following again on Saturday, and wants his players to make the travelling fans proud by full-time at the weekend.

"It's great to go to big stadiums with lots of fans and different things, our away fans have been excellent so hopefully we can take quite a few to the Riverside to back the lads and hopefully the lads can give them another good performance that they can be proud of."

Watch the full interview with the manager on iFollow PNE by clicking on the video above.

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