Preston North End manager Alex Neil is expecting another tight tactical battle when the Lilywhites face Carlos Corberán’s Huddersfield Town at Deepdale this Saturday.
The two sides faced off at the John Smith’s Stadium back in October, as North End came from behind to win, thanks to two goals from skipper Alan Browne.
That day was very much a tactical approach, with the Terriers’ boss learning from his time at Leeds United, when facing PNE and changing his shape for the match up.
Reflecting on that fixture, Alex told iFollow PNE: “It was a really open game. Both teams were trying to suss each other out. They changed their shape from what they would have normally done previous to that.
“They got the first goal, which was poor defending from us with a ball right through the middle, but we reacted well and when the game did open up late in the match, we looked really dangerous and we probably should have scored another two goals in the game at least. It was a tough match, but we managed to find ourselves on the right side of it.
“We played in a specific way against Leeds on a regular basis in the past, which worked well for us and they obviously tried to counter that in the way they approached the game, but we managed to find a solution to that.
“All games are going to be different; we will set up how we want to set up and we will be ready to adjust if necessary, but if we can play well in the manner we want to play, then hopefully it will be enough.”
The North End boss went to see Huddersfield in action at Pride Park against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Wednesday night.
They were without midfielder Jonathan Hogg, who is a big influence on their team, but the gaffer says that all teams are suffering with injuries at present and with playing on Wednesday, as opposed to the visitors’ Tuesday, his side have less time for recovery.
“[Hogg] is their captain; he is an experienced player, knows how to get the job done and is a midfield enforcer, if you want to describe him as that – he is a key player for them.
“We have been without eight or nine players and every squad at the moment – because the games are so close together – are finding it difficult to keep the same players fit on a regular basis; it is unrealistic with the game schedule we have got.
“We are at a disadvantage, with them having played the day before, but we just need to try and attack the game and play as well as we can. We can do a lot of talking and walk throughs, but we have to be conscious of the physical as we have to be aware of the need for them to have energy in their legs as much as we can.
“We will have a look at what Huddersfield are going to bring, let the players know of the challenges they are going to face and how we are going to approach it and then hopefully they can perform on the day and give ourselves the chance.”
The manager’s press conference saw lots of questions about his new look strike force and Alex believes that they will get better and better with more games together.
“We have had opportunities, it is just that final touch, or that final finish, or final ball. Anthony has not had a lot of football at Everton and Ched has stepped up a level.
“Those two being in our front three have certainly added something and, hopefully, as the games go by, will see that sharper side and finishing side get better and better.
“We don’t just rely on those players though; we have other guys who have had opportunities who have not taken them, but all we need to do is to keep trying to create as well as we can and it will come,” he added.
You can watch Saturday’s game against Huddersfield Town live on iFollow PNE, with Jonathan Breeze joined by former North End striker Brett Ormerod from 2.30pm bringing all the action – click here now to book your match pass.