Preston North End manager Alex Neil feels that after a busy January and the easing of the injury problems, things are looking up for his team.
The North End boss has recruited five players, with Joe Rafferty the latest through the Deepdale doors and with Josh Earl now free of suspension and Louis Moult and skipper Tom Clarke set to return, the options are swelling in terms of selection.
“We have replenished numbers we had hoped we would have had all along this season,” the gaffer told iFollowPNE ahead of the trip to face Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.
“That hasn’t been the case, but we have now recruited a few, we have got a few back from injury and we are in a healthier place than where we were.”
The Potters picked up their first win under new boss Nathan Jones, as they beat table-toppers Leeds United last weekend.
The former Luton Town boss chose to switch from his preferred diamond formation in favour of a three-man backline and this tactical change assisted in their victory over Marcelo Bielsa’s side, so what does the North End chief expect this weekend?
“I am not quite sure what they will go with; because when you have got a good result you often want to stay with what has got you that good result, but they could go back to what [Nathan Jones] has as his tried and tested,” he continued.
“It is difficult to call, so we are not going to dwell on that. We have to focus on ourselves, as much as the opposition this week.
“People can change they plans within five minutes of the start of a game anyway and in that case, your best laid plans are out of the window, so it is important we touch on what we think they are going to do and we have a plan in place for that, but equally, most of our time is dedicated to how we are going to play and we are going to go out and try and win the game.”
This is the first trip down the M6 to the Staffordshire side for PNE since January 2008 and Alex believes it will be a good test and one the expected large following from Deepdale should enjoy.
“It is a Premier League stadium. They have been in the Premier League for a number of years. They have got a squad and a stadium fit for the Premier League and I am sure they will be confident going into the game, but after Saturday and how we performed – plus the numbers we have coming back – we will be confident as well.
“The game at home was one of those games you can look back on and think that we should have won. If we can play as well as we did that day, we will give ourselves every opportunity to win the game.
“The fans are always in full voice away from home. Last week it was nice to give them something by putting in such a good performance and scoring some great goals. It is great to see a lot travelling again and hopefully they can give us their backing and we can play as well as we can,” he added.