Preston North End manager Alex Neil says that those who make the starting XI in the Carabao Cup second round have a chance to keep their shirts for the upcoming league challenges.
Speaking to iFollow PNE before the Lilywhites’ trip to face Phillip Cocu’s Derby County on Tuesday night, the gaffer said that there would be a few people looking to prove a point and that was what he was looking for at Pride Park.
“For the lads who are going to play in the game, it is Championship opposition and it is a good test for us to go there and show what we can do, leading up to a big game at the weekend,” the PNE boss said.
“I had some really difficult dilemmas on Saturday in terms of the team. There are a few players who could quite easily have started and it was a really tough decision, so I am looking forward to seeing them play.
“I am sure they are looking forward to showing me that arguably they should have played on Saturday, which is great and then they can put themselves in contention for the weekend.”
The Rams started the season with a 2-0 home defeat to Reading on Saturday and Alex admitted that they had missed some key players, but would also have a side with a point to prove.
“They have added a few players, but they have sold a few players as well,” he continued. “I wouldn’t say they are in transition, but they sold two full backs for big money and they had a few keys players on Saturday out injured.
“[Martyn] Waghorn was [Tom] missing, Lawrence was missing, [Krystian] Bielik is still out and Duane Holmes had a knock as well; so, if you look at their squad, the majority of these are players they have spent vast amounts of money on and are quality players at this level.
“So, if you are missing players like this, it takes a lot out of your team, because they move for big money because they are good players. I am sure Phillip will be frustrated if they are not available, but he still has some good players.
“They are a good side – we had some tough games against them last season. Both games I felt we could have got something from, but we have to go there with the best intentions of trying to win this match.”
Reflecting on the league opener the previous weekend, the manager – having watched it again – felt he was overly critical with the players, but is well aware of what needs to improve.
“There was nothing in the game. Having watched it back, I think I was a little bit harsh on the lads at half-time. The problem is, I set such high standards for them and I sure they should and will expect more from themselves.
“When you watch the game back, we didn’t deserve to lose the match. We did more than enough to get a draw and probably the most frustrating thing was the lack of a cutting edge in the first half when we didn’t create any meaningful chances and that is something we want to improve on.
“What we can take away from it, is that we are not far away. Swansea made the top six last season and we were more than a match for them. We just have to try and get three points on the board as quickly as we can.
“Winning matches makes everybody feel better about themselves; for confidence, for belief, for momentum, so it is important to go and try and get a win on the board,” he added.
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