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First Team News

Gaffer Wants Return Of Early Season Form

30 November 2017

Manager Alex Neil is hoping his side can return to the form they showed at the start of the season and feels there's more to come from his side.

After four points on the road last week, North End have three home games in four weeks and the gaffer wants his side to replicate their early season form at Deepdale which saw three wins from the first four games on home turf.

North End's return to winning ways has coincided with the return of a number of first team players from injury, and the PNE boss expects his side to continue to improve.

Speaking to iFollow PNE, the 36-year-old said: "There comes a bit of added pressure at home because the fans want to see their team win, our form on the road in the last couple of games has been good and we need to make sure that we bring that back to Deepdale and show the form that we did at the start of the season.

"However, as I've been saying we've got a lot more of our players coming back now and I expect us to be stronger.

"You see the resilience and the way the lads have gone about their work in the last two games, there's a real belief and confidence that we can go and pick up points and on our day we are more than a match for anyone.

"It's difficult because since I've been here I've never had a fully fit squad where I can pick what I deem to be the best starting Xl. We've obviously been through spells where we've had people available and not available and the same will happen this week.

"Ben Pearson missed Norwich and Daniel Johnson is now going to miss QPR, it would be nice to have the players available at the same time and then really try and get to where I think we can go.

Queens Park Rangers are the next side to visit Deepdale this weekend, and after two goal late in injury time mid-week saw them steal a point against Brentford, Neil knows his side will be in for a tough match.

"I watched the game, I think in the Championship it's so unpredictable and I knew at the end of it that QPR were going to go direct and it was whether Brentford could see that out.

"Unfortunately for them they couldn't but it just shows, QPR had lost three on the bounce leading up to that game and then managed to salvage a draw from a position where it was highly unlikely so I think they've got to take a lot of credit for that and it just shows that it's going to be a really competitive match.

"I think with the squad that they've got they are very versatile in the way that they play, I think their last four games that I've seen they've changed formation within the game, they've started with different ones as well, they've started with different personnel.

"So they are really unpredictable in terms of how they are going to set up, which means that we will focus more on ourselves and how we set out to perform."

There was another boost to the squad this week as Declan Rudd and Tom Clarke both played the full 90 minutes against Bury in the Lancashire Senior Cup.

On the returning pair, the gaffer continued: "It was important to get some competitive minutes under their belts, I don't think Declan had a save to make really, there wasn't a huge amount for him to do but just being connected to his back four and talking and his distribution of the ball and just being involved in a 90 minute match which will be good for him.

"It's the same with Tom, he's obviously been tested a little bit more, he needed to get his timing right for his headers, distribution of the ball so it was good for them. It's never going to replicate a proper Championship match however it's as close as we can get and it gets minutes in to their legs."

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


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