Preston North End’s Alex Neil speaks ahead of local derby clash against Wigan Athletic

Alex Neil is expecting a tough test from promoted side Wigan (Picture Credit: Tom Sandells)

Alex Neil is confident that his side has what it takes to turn their fortunes around after a disappointing start to the EFL Sky Bet Championship.

Finding themselves rock bottom of the table, Preston are still looking for their first league win since their opening day victory against QPR.

The Scotsman, however, was pleased with the way his side fought back from being 2-0 down against 10-man Aston Villa and survived a last minute penalty, which was saved by Chris Maxwell, in Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw, but he was left to rue the home side’s late equaliser.

Speaking at PNE’s pre-match press conference, he said: “There’s no doubt in my mind that we should have won the match. Even in the second half we probably could have scored six goals quite comfortably.

“The frustrating thing was their only opportunity in the second half comes in the 91st minute and it ends up in the back of the net.”

Despite the underwhelming start, Neil believes his side has enough quality to start putting wins on the board, showcased with recent comebacks against Sheffield United and Aston Villa.

The former Norwich boss said: “Our position in the league is disappointing and frustrating for everyone. I think we’ve already displayed the traits that we will never give up.

“It is a game management thing. It’s not a lack of ability. If you haven’t got ability you don’t score three goals at Aston Villa. It’s just about making key decisions at key times.”

Goalscoring hasn’t been the problem for Preston, who have netted at least twice in each of their last four games, but they have struggled to keep it out at the other end. Neil thinks better decision-making is the key to improving their defensive record.

“Winning football games is making as many good decisions as you can. The more poor decisions you make, the more likely you’re going to get damaged and hurt in terms of conceding goals,” he said.

Preston’s next opportunity to register another league win comes against local rivals Wigan Athletic but Neil is very wary of the threat the visitors pose. However, the North End manager is hoping that his side can continue their form on from the second half performance against Villa and head into the international break with a victory.

“I think they’ll come here with real confidence. They’ve got some quality in their team. Josh Windass off the right is a good player for them. They’ve got Nick Powell who’s got real quality that can hurt you.

“It’ll be a typical derby so I think it’s a great game for us. Leading into the break we’ve got to hopefully go and try and win it and if we do that I think that will give us a great platform,” he said.