Preston North End manager Alex Neil could make changes to his side for Tuesday night’s visit of Morecambe in the Carabao Cup, but he sees it as an opportunity for players to stake a claim for a regular place in the team.
The North End boss spoke to iFollow PNE ahead of the visit of Lancashire rivals Morecambe to Deepdale and feels that the players who could get a chance to come into the side, will be putting their hand up to be involved come Stoke City’s arrival at the weekend as well.
“We’ve only played two league games, but it is important we keep that competitiveness in terms of each position, so some of the lads who haven’t been playing will certainly get an opportunity,” said Alex.
“A lot of them have had really good pre-seasons and my decision making for the games has been difficult and I want it to be even harder after this game. I want the lads to go and do really well, especially after losing at the weekend, and stake their claim for a starting position for the next match.
“I would think we have a better squad than last year, but the proof will be in the pudding, so we will see how the game goes, but I think we have a stronger situation now.
“We have a lot of younger lads coming through who have a real potential and what they have to do is turn that potential into where it is a regular occurrence that they deserve to play. I am looking forward to seeing that develop and hope this game is a big step towards that.”
Normally it is the Lilywhites who go into the games as the underdog, but that won’t be the case in Tuesday’s first round tie, and he expects the Shrimps to relish their opportunity: “They will come here and they know the expectancy of the fixture will be on us, in terms of going to win the game, however, they will have their own expectancy in terms of believing that they can play well and go on and win the match.
“We will have to deal with that and then make sure that our application and the quality that we have got shines through on the night.”
And he is full of praise for the opposition’s long-serving boss Jim Bentley – now the EFL and Premier League’s longest serving manager: “Jim’s longevity in the job is because he has done well. You don’t get that time unless you have done well and Jim deserves huge plaudits for that.
“It is a team he has been with for a long, long time and they are still in the league due to Jim Bentley, so he deserves great credit for that.
“There is nothing better than being the underdog. We get it in our league where we turn up and think ‘don’t underestimate us, because we are going to turn up and give it a right good shot’; we get that regularly and they will be looking at it the same way.
“What we have to do is make sure that we match them in terms of every other facet; aggression, dedication to win, willingness to run and if we do that, I would fully expect that our quality players can make a difference,” he added.
For the full interview with the manager, who also talks about the belief in his squad, amongst other things, click on the video at the top of the page. All our iFollow PNE interviews are available free of charge without the need for a subscription.