Preston North End manager Alex Neil was full of praise for the North End supporters as his side look set to be back by close to 2,000 fans at Reading this weekend.
The Lilywhites’ boss spoke to iFollow PNE to look ahead to the clash with Jose Gomes’ Royals and feels that if ever there was a time to come and watch his side, that time is definitely now!
“This next batch [of games] for us is an opportunity that 12 games ago we didn’t have,” said the gaffer. “We have given ourselves this opportunity by hard work and now we want to go and make the most of it.
“Our away fans this season, in particular, have been incredible – they have really been the driving force for us to put in the run we have been on together.
“I do think that if there is anybody who an armchair fan who does support Preston North End and has not been inspired over the last decade, I think this is the time – if there ever was a time – to be proud of the club.
“If they want to come and see a group of young lads trying their best, this is certainly it and all of that support we are really grateful for and appreciate, so if there’s anybody out there who wants to come, make your way along, because we will be doing our best.”
The team have been back to the hard work on the pitches at Springfields this week after a few days rest during the international break and the PNE chief feels that the rest and recuperation came at a good time.
He also feels that the first game after the fortnight without a fixture will be a tough one and he has been very impressed by the work done by the Royals new manager in his first few months at the Madejski Stadium
“The break was important for the lads to both mentally and physically recover,” he continued. “We have come back in this week, done a bit of work and now we get ourselves prepped and ready for this next game.
“You can see they [Reading] are a well-coached team. They have clear strategies and patterns in terms of how they play.
“It is not going to be an easy game; it is going to be tough. But we have to try and take that momentum and quality we have shown in the last 12 matches and try and continue it.
“They have got dangerous players and will be a dangerous side, because they will risk the ball, they will open the pitch up, make it big and if you are not on it, or you are a yard off, they will cause you real problems, so we will have to go there and play very well.”
And with an, in-effect, eight game mini-season now about to begin, the manager is keen to revert to the footballing cliché of taking one game at a time.
“This game is crucial. We have a real big week coming up after that, with the three teams we play being at the top end of the table, so we know and understand that this one is really important.
“We don’t want to lose any ground this weekend and then have to go into that week [playing catch up], but all the games are now going to be crucial.
“I think when you look at the games on paper you might think we might win certain one and not others, but it doesn’t work that way, we had a really tough week before the break and picked up nine points from nine, which was superb.
“We just need to take each game individually, give it our best shot and hope that it is enough on the day and that’s exactly how we will treat this one,” he added.