Skip to main content Skip to site footer
First Team News

Alex Neil Hoping To See Players Take Their Chance

13 September 2018

With a number of first team spots up for grabs this weekend due to injuries and suspensions, manager Alex Neil is hoping the players who are involved can show what they are capable of on the pitch.

The Lilywhites will be without suspended pair Ben Pearson and Ryan Ledson, and with Calum Woods, Sean Maguire and Billy Bodin all side-lined and midfielder Alan Browne being assessed after picking up calf injury, there is an opportunity for some players to claim a spot in the gaffer's starting Xl.

Speaking to iFollow PNE on his midfielder options ahead of Saturday's return to action against Reading at Deepdale, Alex said: "We have got Paul Gallagher, Daniel Johnson, Josh Harrop and potentially Alan Browne, it's not as if that's a big problem for us.

"I think this will be an ideal opportunity for a lot of the lads who are playing to show what they can do and it's a crucial game for us as well in terms of hopefully getting three points on the board.

"The fact is at the moment I am searching for a solution a little bit, we obviously won the first league game of the season, our last two games that we have played have been in the cup and then in the league and we have a win and a draw, so we should be going in to this game with more confidence than what we have done, certainly after Derby where we had come off the back of a couple of defeats.

"It's really up to those lads to go and show what they can do, and for them to show 'I am the guy to get the job done and I am what the solution is'."

With seven games coming up within 22 days, the manager knows how important his whole squad will be over the next three weeks, and he's hoping they can pull together to get a winning run going before the next International break in October.

"We are going to need all of the squad for these, it's going to be a big push for us and it's a crucial three weeks for us as well. The games come thick and fast in the Championship and its one of those where if you are on a bad run, you can find yourselves four games down the line with no points, or if you are on a good run, you can find yourself four games down with a lot of points.

"We have got some difficult matches coming up but I think whenever you look at the league and the fixtures that you've got coming up with the teams that are now in it, I don't think there is ever an easy spell.

'We need to make sure that, like we did last year, that even the better teams, that we are going to cause them a lot of problems and we are more than capable of going on and beating them.

"As a supporter, they will want the team to go out and play well and naturally they want us to win. They are the key ingredients but what we have got to do it is we have got to take care of the performance that hopefully gives us the best chance of doing that.

"The lads have trained really well over the last week and a bit and hopefully the last final touches over the next couple days will get us ready for the game on Saturday, and that is our sole focus at the moment. We know we have got big games coming up but this first one is the key one.

First up is the visit of Paul Clement's Reading who currently sit bottom of the Championship, but the manager does feel their league position does their performances so far this season justice.

On Saturday's opposition, the PNE boss continued: "I think they are going to be a really competitive team, I think they've only got two points on the board but I don't think it's a fair reflection on how well they have played. I am sure everybody watched the Derby game at the start of the season which I thought they should have won quite comfortably and a lot of the other games, they have been well in the games.

"They are a bit like ourselves in that fine margins have maybe cost them points in terms of not taking an opportunity when it arises and then being punished on the counter attack.

"I think the league itself has significantly improved from last year, I think the size of the clubs that have come up, the spending power they have got, the way they went about improving their squads, I think it's made it a really competitive and difficult league this year."

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


Advertisement block