Burton Albion, who host Preston North End at 3pm Saturday, will be hoping for a positive result with just three wins all season. At only three games away from the mid-point this weekend game becomes even more important.
Their opponents Preston, are looking to continue their run of 4 games unbeaten. Edging closer to the playoffs, The Lilywhites sit just six points behind 6th place Derby County.
Nigel Clough calls for his team to be “brave enough on the ball”
In his pre-match interview, the son of European cup (now the Champions League) winner Nigel, indicated that he is desperate to get three points on Saturday.
“We just want to look at this one game and try and get something from it, we aren’t looking at the Christmas period or anything else we are putting everything into this game. We need to be brave enough to get on the ball and play football."
Clough had a similar run last campaign, with just one win in eight games from the end of October until late December, but he’s stated that “We can’t afford anything again like we have had in the last six weeks.
“We know we are beating ourselves at the moment, by making costly mistakes, and that’s the most frustrating thing for everybody. It’s very much within house the reasons we are losing.”
He continued with praise for Preston, “It won’t be easy, Preston have a very good team and a very good squad that was built by Simon Grayson and Alex Neil has come in and taken it on, but that’s what we have to do.”
Neil knows it will be a difficult game
The Scotsman, who has history of promotion with Norwich in the 2015 Play-off Final, doesn’t want his players to take anything for granted against 24th place Burton.
"I don't think the players will be under any illusion about how difficult the match will be. I think Burton have been a really competitive team in this league for the last couple of seasons and going to their place is not an easy place to go,” said Neil.
He continued, “They make it tough, it's a tight, compact ground, you're right in touch with the fans and I'm sure they will want to try and turn their fortunes around.
"They have just hit bottom of the league, so this is going to be a really tough match because we know they are desperate for the points but equally, so are we."
After analysing his opponents Neil went on to look at Burton’s mentality, "They've conceded a lot of late goals which has cost them points, if you had taken those late goals away they would be in a far healthier position than what they are in and I'm sure Nigel will be making his players aware of that they need to keep going for the 90 minutes.”
The former Norwich man finalised his comments by saying, “We need to make sure we go there and perform as well as we can because it's going to take that to get a result.”
Burton have been hit hard by injuries and illness in the recent week, so they will be massive doubts over: Lloyd Dyer and Sean Scannell who haven’t trained this week, Matty Lund and Joe Mason (illness) and Jamie Allen (family bereavement). However, Clough see’s having John Brayford and Will Miller back in contention as “a big bonus” for the game.
Preston are a little luckier with no new injuries, alongside the return of Daniel Johnson and Stephy Mavididi. Leaving Alex Neil happy with “dilemmas in terms of selection” after not having that luxury in past few weeks.