Neil is aiming to build on an impressive first season in charge at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites surprised many with a seventh placed finish as they used a strong defensive base as a platform to edge narrow games. They ended up being just two points behind Derby who finished in the last play-off spot.
Preston were the in-form team at the end of the season because they only dropped two points in their last five games to finish the season strongly, but the Rams rallied with an unlikely victory over Cardiff and a draw with Villa. Neil’s men achieved this even though Jordan Hugill left in January, who was one of their key players.
Here’s what Neil had to say about his plans for next season to the Lancashire Evening Post: “I’m really comfortable with a 24-man squad and that includes all my goalkeepers.”
“Generally I like to have two players per position and what I do like is real flexibility with some of my players.”
“I want some of them to be able to play maybe three or four positions.”
“When you look at what we have at the moment, we have flexible lads.”
Neil clearly likes a relatively small squad to keep it competitive with a young average age in order to limit the effects of fatigue. Tactical flexibility is key as well with players being able to play a number of positions in order to make up for the small squad size. This worked brilliantly this season, but the major issue for this approach is that injuries can decimate a small team leading to a bad season.
Preston will be hoping to avoid this because the youthful core has been able to pick up some vital experience this season which will hopefully serve them well as they aim to build on the seventh placed finish and go one step further.
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