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First Team News

'Anything Can Happen' Says Alex Neil

12 April 2018

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First Team News

'Anything Can Happen' Says Alex Neil

12 April 2018

Preston North End sit just five points outside of the top six with four games to play in the Sky Bet Championship, and Alex Neil feels it is still all to play for in the race for the Play-Offs.

North End face Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road this weekend, and with fellow Play-Off chasers facing each other on Saturday, the PNE boss feels this weekend is an opportunity for his side to close in on the teams above them in the table.

Speaking to iFollow PNE, the manager said: "If the teams that are immediately above us beat the teams that are in the Play-Offs, which is more than capable of happening, we can claw some really important points back. Going into three games left, anything is capable of happening.

"Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Millwall have pretty much got most of the top teams to play before now and the end of the season. It’s certainly not dead, there’s certainly still something to play for and after this 90 minutes I think we will have a clearer idea of where we are, because if we win, some other teams drop points it could literally go down to one game and we’ve got three games left, so anything can happen in one game.

Despite their fate being out of their hands to extend, the gaffer insists the squad must primarily focus on winning their own games and not the results of others. He continued: "We can't focus on anyone else because the simple fact is if we don’t win our game then the rest of it doesn’t matter.

"That’s where we are. We have to do exactly what we did against Leeds, focus on our match, go out there and do as best as we can and try and win the game.

"And if we can do that, once the dust has settled and our games finished, we can then come in and see where we stand. Hopefully we’ll then get an opportunity with three games remaining."

With the gaffer only in his first season at the club, and players still adapting to a new style of play, Alex admits that the side would have taken their current position at the start of the season with four games to play.

"We would have taken it, before a balls kicked you don’t know how the season’s going to pan out. With all the will in the world, you know you can go on and do a good job, get them ready, get them prepared – but you’re just hoping that the players stand up and deliver, perform as well as they can.

"Having not known the players before I came here, you’re always working under a little bit of an air of trepidation and hoping that things are going to work out and you can get them going.

"Thankfully for us, I think we’ve done that and more; I think the players have improved considerably over the season. Performances have improved as the season has worn on and I think a lot of the players have had terrific seasons so I’m delighted for and with them."

Next up for North End is a trip to face Ian Holloway's QPR on Saturday, and the gaffer is hoping his side can come out of the blocks quickly and quieten the home crowd as the Lilywhites look to build on Tuesday night's win over Leeds United.

"It’s going to be a tough game, they’ve got some good players in their side. They’re the type of team that are capable of going on a beating a team three or 4-0 like they could have done recently. We’re going to have to approach it as if it will be a tough match for us, one that if we go and perform as well as we know that we can there’s no reason why we can’t get a result.

"They’ve got quite a big squad, they’ve invested a lot of money in the squad as well. It’s going to be a tough match for us. Like anything else, you can prep and prepare for what you think is coming but then when you turn up on the day, because the squads can be that big nowadays, it can be completely changed and that’s the way that it was against Leeds really.

"We’d prepped for the lads that had played the previous match and then when they turned up the front three were on the bench. It makes those preparations testing at times.

"QPR is right in the heart of London so it’s one of those clubs that when you go there, there’s always a tense atmosphere, their fans get right behind them.

"We’ve got to go there and try and quieten the crowd right away and make sure that we impose ourselves on the game. That’s the best way to be able to try and defuse that tension and go and perform well."

Watch the full interview with the gaffer, as well as the thoughts of Declan Rudd, on iFollow PNE now.

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