Preston North End face Birmingham City in the Championship this weekend knowing that a victory could see them move into the play-off places, if other results go their way.
It has been a brilliant few weeks for the Lilywhites, who are now just two points outside the top six, with nine matches to play.
Alex Neil’s side are building some serious momentum and extended their remarkable unbeaten run to eleven matches this week with an important victory over fifth-placed Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
It has been an interesting week for Neil, who is reportedly one of the leading candidates to succeed Darren Moore at West Bromwich Albion, who was sacked after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with bottom club Ipswich Town, despite his side sitting fourth in the table.
However, as reported by the Lancashire Post, the Preston boss has distanced himself from speculation linking him to the Hawthorns and has insisted he is solely focused on his job at Deepdale.
This will no doubt come as good news to Preston fans, because they cannot afford to lose their manager, not least at such an important stage of the season.
Given what Neil has been able to achieve during his spell in charge at Deepdale, it is perhaps easy to understand West Brom’s reported interest in the manager and at just 37, he could make a terrific long-term appointment for the Baggies.
Under a limited budget, Neil was able to steer Preston to within touching distance of the Championship play-offs last season, guiding them to an impressive seventh place in the table, just three points outside the top six – this is something he deserves great credit for.
He also knows exactly what it takes to win promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs, having guided Norwich City to that success in 2015.
This experience could prove crucial come the end of the season when you consider Preston’s chances of finishing in the top six and this is a prime reason why they cannot afford to lose their manager.