Preston North End boss Alex Neil has provided a positive update about the fitness of his squad, revealing they’re “in good shape” ahead of the Championship clash with Derby County.
The North West side head out of the international break in an extremely strong position–sitting second in the Championship, two points back from league leaders West Bromwich Albion.
A win against the Rams on Saturday could see them go top of the table, should the Baggies slip up against Sheffield Wednesday.
It appears the international break has given Neil’s squad time to regain some fitness, as the Preston boss provided a positive update on attacking midfielder Josh Harrop and captain Tom Clarke.
Harrop has struggled with a hamstring injury over the past month or so, while Clarke has been missing since August with a knee injury.
As quoted by the club’s official Twitter account, Neil said: “We are looking in good shape so I would expect the majority of players to be back this weekend.”
On the fitness of Clarke, he said: “He’s getting there, he’s been on the grass now for a few weeks so he’s making good progress so we will keep stepping that up.”
On Harrop, he added: “Josh has been training this week so he’s been fine since Monday. We will have a look at him for the next few days and see how he goes.”
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Neil concluded: “We had a bounce game the other day which the lads played very well in and they are all pushing to be involved at the moment.”
“Confidence and belief is massive in football and it’s taken us a while to get to that point but I think we have that confidence and belief now.”
16th-place Derby have struggled this season and Preston should be confident of picking up their fourth consecutive victory on Saturday.
To hear that Clarke and Harrop are both close to returning is great news for Preston.
The match against the Rams at Pride Park on the weekend may be too soon but ahead of a busy festive period, getting some important players back is a huge boost.
With Neil’s side in an excellent vein of form at the moment, it will be interesting to see whether the two players will be brought back into the starting XI.