Harris | We’ve got to be at our best
HARRIS' PRESTON PREVIEW
Neil Harris’ pre-Preston North End press conference took place on Thursday afternoon at The Vale Resort.
The Bluebirds boss opened with an insight into his playing squad considerations ahead of the visit of the high flying Lilywhites.
“Aden Flint is going to struggle for this weekend as is Junior Hoilett and Gary Madine,” Neil began. “We’ve also picked up a few knocks in the week.
“I’m really disappointed with the appeal decision. I didn’t think it was a red card at the time, nor watching it back. I do understand the modern game and the need to protect players but the lad Nketiah was just too quick for Mozza. There was a genuine attempt to get the ball. Both benches were amazed and it was sensible to appeal. The biggest thing of all was not reducing the ban from three games. I can’t understand that.
“I always look at it that if you’re short in a position then one man's misfortune is another persons gain. Curtis (Nelson) came on at the weekend and I thought he was outstanding, as he has been since I came in. And obviously we’ve got Sol (Bamba), who is chomping to go. He’s been getting fitter. We’ll see where his levels are at. Most importantly he’s got great experience and leadership qualities, and he wants to play.
“When players get to a certain age they’re the best judge on their bodies. It takes time to understand your body. Sol understands himself and the requirements of the game. He’s had four weeks now. You never know if a player is ready until they’re out on the pitch. If his opportunity to play comes on Saturday it is up to him to grab that chance. He’s a personality, a presence and a leader, who has had a wonderful career.
“We’ve also got young Ciaron Brown, who has played internationally for Northern Ireland so we’ve got strength in depth. Without Mozza and if Flint is struggling we’ve got players who are ready to play.”
The City boss was complimentary of Alex Neil’s Preston side, who currently sit third in the Sky Bet Championship table after 22 matches.
“The league table doesn’t lie. We’re nearly half way through and you are where you deserve to be as a group. They’ve done really well to get into this position. They’ve got some very good players, and a settled manager that has done well with the group.
“They can control the ball very well with numbers behind the ball. They also get it forward quickly too. They’re a combination a number of styles and that is the right mix in the Championship.
“We have to make sure that defensively we are as good as the games against Forest and Stoke, and at times, Brentford, and then ensure we have an attacking intent to hurt them.
“We’ve got to be at our best on Saturday. Leeds (United) were the best side I’ve seen in this division for a long time and Brentford weren’t far behind that for an hour. Preston are third in the league - sandwiched between those two teams. It’s going to be one of our toughest games of the season at home.
“On the back of a good week’s training we need to make sure that the 11 fit players selected are ready with a game plan to cause them problems.”