Alex Neil has insisted that Preston’s desire is to complete the full regular Championship season and fully earn their place in the play-off places, amid the potential resumption of the campaign.
Preston currently occupy the final play-off places, but they are only one point clear of seventh placed Bristol City and there is only a six-point gap between the Lilywhites and 13th placed Queens Park Rangers, which means there is the potential for them to drop out of the top six if the campaign resumes.
If the season were to end prematurely and conclude the table on a points-per-game basis, Neil’s side would finish inside the Championship’s top six and contest the play-offs, but there remains the prospect that the campaign will get back underway and the play-off battle could go down to the wire.
Quiz: Have these 15 current and ex-Preston North End players ever played in the Premier League?
Speaking to Sky Sports, Neil suggested that the Lilywhites want to finish off the campaign and earn their place in the play-off places through their final league table position, even though that might risk dropping out of the top six.
He said: “We’re very much looking at the fairness and the integrity of the league, so we want to play the 46 games.
“If we get the chance to play the games, we’ll be ready to play. We’re certainly not trying to halt the season, all the way along we’ve wanted to get back playing so that certainly hasn’t changed.
“We’re in a good position at the moment and if we deserve to be in the play-offs we’ll win enough games between now and the end of the season and if we don’t do that we won’t deserve to be there.”
This is the sort of approach you would expect from Neil, with the Preston manager the sort of character that will want to feel that himself and his players have earned their final league position on merit, and that if they do reach the play-offs it will because they have been amongst the six best sides in the division.
Preston can in many ways be relaxed about if and whether the campaign does resume, with the Lilywhites guaranteed to be in the top six if the season ends prematurely and a points-per-game system is used, while they are also in a strong position should play resume.
It would be a very exciting, but nervy end to the campaign for the Lilywhites if the season resumes, with Preston leading a clutch of teams who are all focusing on claiming that final play-off spot, so things could go right down to the wire.