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Harris: “We have to stand up to the physical demands of the game”

Manager expecting challenging test but a solid display at Preston

14 December 2018

Neil Harris says his side are ready to go one better this weekend, as Millwall seek to follow up two encouraging performances with a positive result at Deepdale against Preston North End.

Harris’ men have picked up draws from December’s two Sky Bet Championship games so far against Bristol City and Hull City respectively, and the manager wants the team to use the unbeaten matches as a foundation to go for more.

“We can’t wait for the game, we’re very much [looking forward to it]”, Harris says.

“We were excellent at Bristol City to get a hard-earned point; in periods we were very good against Hull and we should have got the three points. Last week has just made us hungry for more.

“I’ve always been honest enough assessing my players individually and collectively, and we’ve had to go back to basics and start building again – the last two performances and results have been very promising. We take that into a tough place to go in Preston at the weekend.”

The boss acknowledges how much Alex Neil’s Lilywhites have improved in recent weeks, but knows the hosts are a side which The Lions can go toe-to-toe with.

“[Preston] are a team that has been rejuvenated in the last couple of months. Whilst it’s a tough place to go and play, they are a team we know we can compete against. We have to stand up to the physical demands of the game, and go and be the best we can be.

“I’m asking the players to be the best they can and to follow the game plan that we’ll put in place, and if we do that then we’ll get a positive result.

Harris has stressed that the upcoming festive schedule is one of the most vital stages of the League season, and is confident his squad can navigate the busy period of fixtures well, in the same vein as this time last year.

“Christmas is key, because the games come and go so quickly. We have a week to recover and prepare between Preston and Stoke, but then there are four games between Stoke and Ipswich [New Year’s Day] in just nine or 10 days.

“That comes and goes very fast. We have to make sure that you focus on that period and you try and gain every point, because the majority of the season is gone after that. Last year, it was a successful period for us.

“We got it right in terms of the recovery time and time spent with family over Christmas, but then also working hard in the games. We have to nail [the Christmas period] again this year. The players will embrace it – the work they’ve put in over the last couple of weeks has been excellent, and we’ll continue to try and be better. The message is clear – this starts at the weekend against Preston.”

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