Much of Preston North End’s incoming summer transfer business has already been concluded, but the Lilywhites are still in the market for new recruits before the transfer window closes next month.
New head coach Frankie McAvoy has mostly bolstered the defence at PNE, with Matthew Olosunde joining last seasons loanees Liam Lindsay and Sepp van den Berg at Deepdale, the former of the duo on a permanent deal from Stoke and the latter another season-long loan from Liverpool.
The only attacking addition so far has been that of Izzy Brown, who has arrived from Chelsea on a free transfer and will battle for the attacking midfield spot in what looks to be a competitive area of McAvoy’s squad.
There are still one or two areas that could be looked at – including one glaringly obvious position up-front but there doesn’t seem to be many available who would strengthen the team – so let’s have a look at two free agents in another position who could bolster North End’s squad and could potentially come on their radar soon.
It looks as though McAvoy will be lining up how he ended his caretaker spell as head coach last season in a 3-5-2 formation, and the wing-backs bombing forward in this system is key.
On the right hand side there’s been an addition in Olosunde but on the left side of the pitch Greg Cunningham could do with some new competition – Andrew Hughes seems to be the first choice as the left-sided centre-back – Josh Earl is being utilised there as well in pre-season instead of wing-back.
Joe Rafferty and Tom Barkhuizen have both featured instead of Cunningham in the squad rotation but neither are natural left-wing-backs and with the Irish international’s injury record not being the greatest, it would do no harm for North End to put the feelers out to a former loanee in Adam Reach.
Reach spent the 2015-16 campaign on loan at Deepdale and was impressive – playing either on the left-wing or at left-wing-back and it’s the latter where he’s featured quite regularly for Sheffield Wednesday recently.
He joined the Owls in 2016 but was recently released following their relegation to League One and considering he hasn’t been snapped up yet, it would be a good punt for North End if they were to land the 28-year-old.
Many may think wages would be an issue but the fact that Reach is not under contract anywhere means that his expectations may have to drop and if he’s affordable for the Lilywhites then it’s a deal worth doing.
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Looking at alternatives at left-wing-back, Wales international Neil Taylor – now 32 years old and recently released by Aston Villa – could be an option but he’s had a severe lack of game-time recently and he may fit better in a back four.
A wing-back who would bring some attacking qualities is Marvin Johnson though, with Middlesbrough choosing not to extend the contract of the 30-year-old after four years on Teesside.
Naturally a winger, Johnson was converted into a wing-back not too long ago and he can definitely be a threat in that position going forward, scoring three times in the Championship last season and bagging five assists as well.
He may not be in the age category that PNE seem to be delving into with their recent signings, with all four being 25 and under, but Johnson would bring a bit of experience and competition for Cunningham if Reach proves to be out of reach.