Preston North End manager Alex Neil has plenty of selection headaches ahead of the arrival of Gary Rowett’s Stoke City at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites boss admits he is yet to work out what his best team is and that anyone of his squad could come into contention over the coming weeks.
Speaking to iFollow PNE before the live Sky Sports fixture, the gaffer said there was a real battle for the starting XI going on: “Early season it is often difficult [to pick a team] as there is not a lot to go off. What we did last year is consigned to the past.
“We have a lot of new players in the building, we signed another two young players last week and now everyone is fighting and scrapping to see where they are in terms of the pecking order and I have to get to that conclusion very quickly in terms of what I deem my best team to be, because at the moment you could put a case forward for a lot of them.”
The clash with the Potters will be another tough one for North End, but the manager is well-prepared: “I was at Leeds when they played Stoke, I have watched the Brentford game as well as us doing our analysis on them, so most things are well covered,” he continued.
“You don’t turn up nowadays and there are too many surprises with teams. Gary will be looking for a solution in terms of trying to get a win under their belt and probably trying to figure out about some of his players.
“He only came in during the summer and now that the real stuff starts he will be looking at who he can rely on, who he can’t rely on and will be making those decisions.
“When you face a team who have not been in form, then there can naturally be change, because they are trying to find a solution.”
A lot of the City squad are household players and full internationals, but the manager feels that is only more motivation for his side and feels they will have plenty of belief after the start to the season.
“Their guys have earned their reputations by being in the Premier League and therefore people know who they are, but our lads are aspiring to get there and that hunger and determination to prove a point about where they are as players and where they want to go to, will hopefully show in the game.
“We didn’t move the ball under pressure well enough last week [at Swnasea]; which is a bit unlike us. Our use of the ball has improved and I thought we did it during the week very well.
“I know is was lesser opposition, but this will be a big test for us on Saturday and I am hopeful they can go and show what they can do,” he added.
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