Former Stoke City boss Gary Rowett certainly appears to have been impressed with Preston this season.

North End hammered Barnsley 5-1 on Saturday afternoon, moving up to third in the Championship table. Daniel Johnson bagged himself a brace, with Tom Barkhuizen, Ben Pearson and Josh Harrop also on the scoresheet.

The encouraging stats have been piling up. Preston have the best home record in the league, have scored the most goals, and boast the best goal difference in the Championship too.

Preston North End manager Alex Neil. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Only West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest – two clubs with vastly greater resources than Preston – sit above North End. Whilst Alex Neil would love to fly under the radar, the results are gathering attention.

Speaking on Quest, former Stoke boss and current pundit Rowett offered his view. Rowett stood by his prediction that Preston will finish in the top six this season, at least securing a playoff place.

Rowett hailed how North End play under Neil, using the words ‘vibrant’ and ‘hungry’, adding that Preston are a ‘fantastic’ team this season.

“I tipped them for the top six at the start of the season,” said Rowett. “Under Alex Neil, they’ve improved year on year. They’re a very young, very vibrant side, they score goals from everywhere, they’re such a hungry side with a lot of movement, and I think they’re a fantastic side this season,” he added.

Ben Pearson of Preston North End celebrates with teammates after scoring against Barnsley. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

There’s a long, long way to go, but to make it to the second international break in third place is something of a dream start. There are tough games on the horizon; Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United both head to Deepdale soon to test that unbeaten home record, whilst long trips to Reading and Charlton Athletic won’t be easy.

If North End can keep winning at home and picking up points on the road, they’ll be in a strong position. Rowett clearly has high hopes for Preston, and more and more pundits are seemingly taking notice.

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