With two games in four days, PNE manager Alex Neil has spoken about the importance of the depth of his squad and the supportive nature of the lads in the build up to the Derby County clash.
North End will be following up a 0-0 draw with Leeds United at Elland Road with a trip to Pride Park on Tuesday night. PNE spent a third of the match with ten men as Ben Pearson was dismissed but Alex Neil is thinking of the other players in his team that can challenge for the now available starting berth.
Speaking to PNE.Com he said: “That’s the luxury of having a good squad, it’s important, we’re going to need everyone between now and the end of the season and the lads are really supportive of each other.
“Even the ones that are not playing, they’re there to support their teammates and hope that they do well; if they’re given an opportunity they want to come in and make sure they contribute.
“They’ve been that way since day one, that’s never changed, their attitude is first class. We need to replace Ben; see how the opposition are going to play and make sure all the lads are nice and fresh and fit and ready to go.”
Looking back at the result on Saturday in Yorkshire, the Lilywhites’ boss was proud of the his team's performance, who were only missing a goal on the day.
“The only thing we were lacking was the elusive goal that we thought we deserved. We had some good opportunities to get it, we hit the bar, Alan Browne had two really good opportunities; there’s one DJ [Daniel Johnson] flashes across the goal towards the end so we had good bits in the game.
“I thought we played really well, we were pleased with the performance. Especially when we went down to ten men – we showed the other side of the game and we did that really well as well so all in all, a really good day."
With his focus now turning to the Derby County trip on Tuesday, Neil is expecting a difficult encounter. The Rams are still looking for a win this season but will likely go into Tuesday’s game as favourites, which the gaffer welcomes.
“They haven’t won a game yet but they’re a big club, there’s a lot of expectation there and I think it’s going to be a really difficult, but hopefully exciting, game come tomorrow night; because we want to go there and try and win it.
“I think that plays right into our hands because I think they expect to turn up and roll Preston over. As the two teams we’ve played so far have found out, that’s certainly not going to be the case. We’re focused, we’re determined and we’ve got some really good players – we’ve got to showcase that again.
North End defying expectations against perceived bigger teams has created reactions on social media from opposing fans and the PNE boss sees it as a positive that they’re proving people wrong and have them talking.
“That’s pleasing because people will only talk about you in that manner because you’re playing well and their teams not dominating you in the way that they expect. I take that as a sort of bonus and it’s nice for people to say that. They’re not saying it in a nice manner but we’re certainly taking it in a good way.”
With the major news for the club that the proposed plans for the new training ground development have been accepted, Alex Neil wants the club to continue to make forward strides to improving everything about the club.
“It’s great, as a club if we’re going to move forward we need to improve every element of the business. The fact is the training ground is where we spend pretty much every day.
“If we want to attract the best players then we need to make sure the lads are well catered for and that we can do everything in our power to get them to where all they need to worry about it performing on Saturday. A good training ground is absolutely fundamental, it’s a great step forward for the club.”
A part of the progression the club has made is the growing number of international call-ups the playing squad are receiving. Four of the Irish members of the PNE squad have been called up to the Republic of Ireland’s provisional squad and the manager believes that it is no less than they all deserve.
“It’s giving them that pat on the back for the performances that they’ve been putting in so far and they’ll be really pleased with that. We’ve got a high Irish contingent in the changing room so I’m delighted for them.
“I’m hoping that Martin or Roy have been at our games and seen how well we’ve played and how well Greg has done in particular, even Sean in the first game. They’re getting the credit they deserve due to the fact that they’ve played really well.”