Preston North End manager Alex Neil has had the opportunity to see a lot of Rotherham United this season and he has been impressed by what he has seen from the South Yorkshire side.
His Lilywhites head to the AESSEAL New York Stadium on Saturday, looking for another positive away performance, but, up against a coaching team of Paul Warne and Richie Barker, who he played alongside during his playing career, Alex says it will be a tough fixture.
“It is always a tough game at the New York Stadium,” he told iFollow PNE. “It is not an easy place to go. They will be missing fans as well; it is the type of place that if they get a corner, they go bananas and make it a hostile atmosphere, which is good for them.
“I have watched a lot of their games this year. We have been prepping for a lot of opponents who have played them and I have been impressed by them.
“They have maybe just missed opportunities at moments or made a mistake that has been punished, but they have certainly been in every game.
“It isn’t going to be loose game where they have it and then we have it. They will try and lock you on; they’ll be aggressive in the way they play. They don’t risk the ball too often, they will be relatively direct, they will get balls into the box, they will be aggressive, every single ball that drops they will try to get on to it and that makes a tough contest.
“They have got some good players as well. Their experience of being in the league the last time, for the players and the coaching staff, will be something that will help them this time around and they will certainly be up for it. This is going to be a really tough match.”
Like PNE, the Millers have been hit with injury problems of late; midfielder Shaun MacDonald unfortunately breaking his leg and full back Joe Mattock coming off with a muscle injury early in their midweek loss to Luton Town.
And the North End boss feels that something should be done to try and help teams, with the re-introduction of the five substitutes rule: “I have banged the drum about this before the season even began, because I could see it coming,” he continued.
“We experienced it last year, because of all the games we played in such a short spell and the substitute scenario hasn’t helped.
“It is what it is, but we all want to see the best players playing more regularly for every team, but for Rotherham, ourselves, Reading and pretty much ever team in the league, they will have a long injury list at some point, because the games are far too close together without any help to cope with that load.”
Whilst the home form has been anything but where everyone wants it to be, the manager feels that if his side can earn a win at the weekend, they will go into the second international break with something to build on.
“If we can win this game, I think it will probably take us into the top ten and for all the obstacles we have had to overcome - in terms of injuries and people not being available – if we can come out with a victory, put ourselves in a top ten position, I think – although our home form has been poor – it has not been too bad a start to the season.
“We understand we need to improve the home form, but wherever the points come from, it is the same points. We just need to ensure we get as many points as we can leading into this break, hopefully get a few bodies back and let’s see where we go afterwards,” he added.
You can watch Saturday’s game from the New York Stadium on iFollow PNE, as the Lilywhites chase a fifth straight away win against Paul Warne’s Rotherham United and we will have to guests joining commentator Jonathan Breeze on air, with Andrew Lonergan on co-commentary, plus our interviewee here, Chris Sedgwick, bringing his views both pre-match and at half-time.
The only place you can watch the full coverage is by signing up for an iFollow PNE match pass for £10 – click here now to get yours.