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For the second successive year Alex Neil’s Preston came up against the Clarets in pre-season and again it was a one goal win for the visitors at Deepdale.

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Neil was pleased with what he saw from his Championship outfit too. “I thought it was quite an entertaining game obviously with the five goals,” he said. “Josh Harrop took his really well, he took it early and quickly, which was a good finish. The next one is a great through ball from Sean (Maguire) that I’d like to see him more on the end of than some of the other players, but it’s a good through ball for Callum (Robinson) who tucked it in well.

“We had a lot of attempts at goal, a lot of good opportunities in and around the box and if we made some better decisions, we could have created more chances.

“I think our disappointment was the second two goals we conceded were a bit sloppy from our point of view, one was a second phase free kick which was unnecessarily given away and then for the second, we’re on t he counter and lose the ball in a silly area. But I thought, all in all, certainly in the second half, the game improved.”

He added: “We had a chat at half time about some things I thought we could improve on and I think we did, we really took the game by the scruff of the neck. I thought there was a lot of decent performances. Obviously, some of the new lads again featured which is good to get them minutes and get them used to how we work and what we try to do, so it was a good exercise.

“We were just trialling a few things as well, different combinations, different players. We put Louis [Moult] and Sean up front for a spell and then obviously just protect Sean because his figures were sky high. Josh Harrop, I thought had a good game as number ten, Andrew Hughes was much better second half, so I think there are a lot of positives to take.

“We wanted to give the players as many minutes as we can and avoid injury, but getting the team ready and prepared for what comes is the most important thing. I think we’ve faced a variety of different opponents and we’ve got another different one coming up on Saturday against Oldham, that should set us up nicely for the season.”

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Some questioned us playing a friendly three days before the game at Aberdeen but Sean Dyche said: “In the last preparation time for the Aberdeen game we put this in deliberately because we knew it would be a proper game and I think it was, so that was important.

“It was clear there were different groups of players. We are still a few missing and we still want to be active in the market which we are attempting to be, because we diluted quickly, for the bigger picture. But it was good tonight and I’m really pleased. The group you saw tonight is very motivated, they’re looking fit, looking well and looking sharp and remind ourselves we have some very good players I feel.”

He continued: “The group that came on was a group that came together very quickly because we had to pull people out and I think the young lads did terrific and the older pros around them. We know there is a big game coming but we know there is a bigger picture as well. The Premier League is three weeks away and these young lads are getting a feel of the first team and it’s really good for them.”

He confirmed that Steven Defour is out of the reckoning for Aberdeen on Thursday as he continues to recover from the calf injury that has ruled him out for all the pre-season games. But he updated on the other players who were missing tonight.

“There’s nothing wrong with Robbie,” he said. “In the timelines from that sort of injury coming back, then it’s important the game schedule is spread out,” Dyche explained. “Woody we pulled out just because he has a tightness around the top of the hamstring so we thought we’d better be careful.

“Barnesy is doing okay. He just had a slight pain in a knee tendon. Nothing too serious but it needed settling down. I’m pleased to say it has and he’s been on the grass, so hopefully that will continue to improve. We’ve got Popey coming back in the building, of course.

“It’s nearly there. We wanted to put two sides out tonight that looked like two sides. We haven’t got there but it’s nearly there. They’re not miles away, so that’s good.”

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