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First Team News

Neil Feels Fans Can Play Pivotal Role In Play-Off Challenge

22 February 2018

With some crucial games coming up for the Lilywhites in the hunt for the Play-Offs, manager Alex Neil has called for the support of the fans now more than ever.

In the next month, North End host two fellow Play-Off contenders at Deepdale, and the gaffer knows that the result over the next five games could determine whether the Play-Offs will be in reach come the end of the season.

Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of the first of three home games two weeks, the PNE boss said: "These next four or five fixtures are going to dictate whether we are in with a shout or if we’re just flirting with the Play-Offs.

"The fans are going to have to play their part as much as the players are. We’re just going to try and get together and make a real push and try to get ourselves into those positions; or certainly put ourselves in a good position with the remaining games coming up.

First up is Saturday's clash with Ipswich Town, and although North End will have a point to prove after a 3-0 defeat to the Tractor Boys back in November, the gaffer insists that will be the last thing on his mind this weekend.

"That game in particular we didn’t play anywhere near as well as I think we can. That game, to be honest, it was that long ago, we’ve got more important things that we want the three points for rather than just getting one over Ipswich.

"We want to get ourselves up into the Play-Off positions, we’ve come through a difficult run of games and we’re hoping now that we can go and get some three points together against our next opponents; that should hopefully set us up.

"It will be a really tough test, Ipswich are a really good side, I thought they were unfortunate in the game that they played Norwich the other day.

"It’s going to be a tough test for us but we want to make sure we play a lot better than we did down there."

On his opposite number Mick McCarthy, the gaffer continued: "He’s done it for years, although we were rivals I got on pretty well with Mick when I was at Norwich. It’d be a tough match, Mick's teams are always the same, they will be fully committed, they’ll be up in your face, they’ll make it difficult. We’ve got to more than match that and hope we can play well enough on the day to win the game.

The Ipswich clash is one of 13 games remaining this season, and will PNE sitting just three points outside the Play-Offs, the manager knows that he and his side have an opportunity to achieve something special this season.

"We know this is a great opportunity for us, with 13 games remaining we’re three point outside the Play-Offs, we’re coming through a really tough run of fixtures and we have some of the bigger teams to play at home. We know that this is an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.

"I certainly think the club has worked its way to this point over the past five or six years and now we’re the ones tasked with going and trying to take advantage of that.

"Ipswich will be as hard a game as Aston Villa if not harder, for different reasons. So we now it’s going to be a tough match, when you’re at home, when you’re against a team you’re above in the league; the expectations shifts from the fans and from everybody.

"We’ve got to have the mental capacity to cope with that and still go and deliver a good performance and get a result."

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

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