Alex Neil has hailed Dujon Sterling after the Stoke City ace helped nullify the threat of Preston striker Emil Riis on Saturday.

Neil brought his Stoke side to Deepdale on Saturday, making his first return to North End since being sacked back in March 2021.

Preston fans understandably gave Neil a warm welcome after four largely successful years in charge of the club.

The Scot then managed to get the better of opposite number Ryan Lowe by beating Preston 2-0.


Will Smallbone and Tyrese Campbell scored in the second half to secure an away day win for Neil, something he was a master of at Preston.

Neil was also able to start a player Preston showed a real interest in over the summer in Dujon Sterling.

The Chelsea loanee lined up as a right wing back on Saturday, the exact role Preston had in mind when targeting Sterling.

Lancs Live reported before the summer deadline that Preston were still keen on Sterling after weeks of tracking him, but The Athletic suggested that Neil convinced him to join Stoke.

It’s unclear just how much progress Preston actually made when targeting Sterling given that the budget appeared stretched towards the end of the window.

Still, Sterling played well for Stoke on Saturday with four tackles, two interceptions, two clearances and one key pass.

The 22-year-old is clearly a quality talent and would provide something a little different in the Preston side; being a natural right wing back for one.

Preston North End v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Mike Morese/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Neil has now praised Sterling, telling Lancs Live that he thinks Sterling is one of the best one-on-one defenders that he has ever seen.

Neil rated Darnell Fisher’s one-on-one defensive ability at Preston and seemingly sees similar qualities in Sterling.

The Stoke boss also hailed Sterling for managing to keep up with Preston striker Emil Riis, believing that most Championship defenders would be left lagging behind but Sterling did a great job of shackling the Dane.

“Yeah great, Dujon Sterling, you’ve seen the one where Emil Riis tries to knock it towards the end,” said Neil. “In this division, I reckon Emil Riis runs away from them 99 per cent of the time.”

“Dujon, for me, is arguably one of the best one-on-one defenders I’ve seen. There are very few players who get past him – he is strong, powerful and determined,” he added.

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