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First Team News

Gaffer Discusses Trip To St Mary’s

5 March 2024

First Team News

Gaffer Discusses Trip To St Mary’s

5 March 2024

As North End prepare to face a Southampton side pushing for an automatic return straight back to the Premier League, manager Ryan Lowe wants his players to have belief and confidence in their own ability.

PNE go to St Mary’s for the first time in over a decade on Wednesday night, in search of a ninth match unbeaten.

The Saints have only recently come out of an impressive 25-game run without defeat, and ahead of the midweek round of fixtures they sit five points outside of the top two.

In the reverse clash, Russell Martin’s side snatched a last-gasp point at Deepdale after a late own goal made it 2-2, but on the night North End were brilliant and have also shown their quality against other top sides in recent weeks.

Ryan said: “We’ve come up against some good teams and Southampton are right in the mix. They’re a good team with some fantastic players.

“They’re where they should be. They’re challenging to get back out of the division, but for us it’s about going there with belief and confidence which we’ve got.

“We’re on a good run of form. We’ve got an unbeaten run going and we want to try and continue that. There’s pressure in every game for different reasons and they’ll have their own pressures, and we’ll have our own pressures with what we’re trying to do.

“We’ll show them respect but we won’t fear because we can’t afford to. We’ve got to go there with a real impetus of stamping our authority in games like we’ve done against good teams. They’re a good team and got some good quality. It’s going to be tough and we know that, but the lads are relishing a good game.”

It’s no secret that Southampton play a possession-based style of play. In fact, their 67.1% average is comfortably top of the division.

That starts with playing out from the back, which plenty of teams have tried to do against North End in recent months, and the Lilywhites have been right in their faces to try and stop that happening.

Ryan said: “That’s what we’ve asked them to do of late. They’ve done it for large parts of the season, sometimes it’s a fear factor of whether or not to go in.

“We want them to go in and take the ball; it puts you back on the counter. You’ve got to be really clever when you do it, though. You can’t jump all over the park because then you can get picked off.

“That’s the stuff you have to look at and you have to realise when you’re coming up against good teams. From the Premier League right the way down anyone can get picked off in any division because there’s some good footballers.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re disciplined in our work but when we do it, it looks fantastic.”

With just 11 matches remaining this campaign, it’s a time of the season where results are as important as ever, and North End have plenty of matches approaching against sides at either end of the table.

Ryan added: “I came off the pitch on Saturday after I did the press and had a look at the results and I didn’t see many of them results coming if I’m honest. It just goes to show that there’s loads of teams going to play a big part.

“There’s teams playing each other tonight, teams tomorrow, and over the next few weeks it’s going to be up in the air.

“We’ve just got to focus on the next game. We will have a part to play in our own season of course, as everyone else does, but the main priority is Preston North End at the minute and whatever we’ll achieve we’ll achieve.”

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