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Preston appoint new manager after losing LOI enthusiast Simon Grayson

Boyle, Horgan, Maguire, O’Connor and more have a new man to impress at Deepdale.

Image: EMPICS Sport

PRESTON NORTH END have confirmed Alex Neil as their new manager after Simon Grayson took up the vacant managerial post at Sunderland.

The 36-year-old will be officially unveiled at a press conference at Deepdale late on Wednesday afternoon, and will take charge of the Lancashire club for their pre-season tour of Ireland, which was organised by his predecessor.

Grayson signed Dundalk duo Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle last season, and completed deals to take Cork City’s Seán Maguire and Kevin O’Connor to Deepdale prior to defecting to Sunderland. Grayson’s backroom staff, including Irish goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly, will remain at Preston.

Former Norwich manager Neil will likely be under no illusions as to the quality of his four former League of Ireland charges, having managed Wes Hoolahan at Norwich until March of this year. The former Shelbourne star was reportedly at the centre of the row which eventually saw Neil relieved of his duties, however, with the board and Delia Smith disagreeing with Neil’s assertion that Hoolahan should be sold this summer while he rebuilt the squad. Hoolahan had registered eight assists and three goals at the time.

For the incoming Maguire and O’Connor, as well as Preston’s already sizeable Irish contingent, it’s a new manager to impress. But Neil insists each player will be given a fair crack of the whip this campaign.

“Taking over a job in this situation means we have a confident squad that have been performing well over the last couple of seasons,” he said in an official club statement. “There will not be a task of trying to lift the players, they have shown they are a good team and they can compete at this level and my job is to come in and try and help them improve as individuals and improve us as a club and hopefully try and push further up the league.

“The ultimate aim for any club in the Championship is to try and get promoted at some stage. The club has been stable in the Championship for the last two years and you never know what is going to happen in the next year or two, but we want to try and build a side and a squad that is capable of competing at the top end of the Championship and if we can get a bit of momentum, you never know where you can end up.

There will be players who are quite pleased that everyone is on a level field and there will be players who feel they have already shown their worth to the previous manager, but the good thing for every one of them is the fact that I am coming in fresh. I will judge every one fairly and they will all have to try and impress me to make sure they are getting themselves into the team for the first game of the season. I think that is refreshing. I think it is something for me and them to look forward to.

The 36-year-old Neil previously guided Hamilton Academical to the Scottish Premiership during a two-year spell in his homeland, and has signed a 12-month rolling contract at his new club.

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