Preston North End have endured a challenging campaign in the Championship this season that has seen them decide to part company with manager Alex Neil.
Frankie McAvoy has been placed in interim charge and continued to improve results and performances on the field with their 3-0 success against struggling Derby County. He has reportedly been given the chance to stake a claim for the job and he has not done too much wrong, barring the defeat against Brentford. The Lilywhites have to decide if he is the right fit or if they need someone else.
Whoever is in charge at Deepdale next term, the Lilywhites are facing a crucial summer transfer window that will see them needing to continue to rebuild the squad. Preston have to get everything right in terms of who is allowed to leave and who is brought into the club if they are to make progress.
With that in mind, we take a look at TWO transfer scenarios they will want to avoid playing out this summer…
Losing Van den Berg and Lindsay and not replacing them adequately
One of Preston’s biggest challenges this summer is to make the right additions to their defence. Ben Davies’ January departure to Liverpool left a major issue in their squad that they needed to address. They managed to paper over the cracks until the end of the campaign with the loan arrivals of Liverpool’s Sepp van den Berg and Stoke City’s Liam Lindsay.
The pair have managed to make 13 and ten Championship appearances for the Lilywhites since their arrivals and have both been key members of the side. However, they will both return to their respective parent clubs in the summer and leave Preston a couple of players down in a crucial area of their squad. That means they will have to identify potential replacements for them.
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One thing they could do is bring one or both of them back to the club. Van den Berg has already suggested he could be keen on returning, but that would depend on what Liverpool want to do with him next term. If neither player returns, then they could be in real trouble if they fail to replace them with the right sort of players.
Not bringing in a reliable scorer upfront
Arguably, Preston’s biggest issue during Neil’s tenure at Deepdale was their lack of a reliable scorer up front. During the 2017/18 campaign the Lilywhites finished in 7th place in the league. They could have finished far higher had they had more than just Sean Maguire and Jordan Hugill, who left midway through that season, reaching double figures with ten each.
Then the 2018/19 season saw them finish in 14th place with Callum Robinson and Alan Browne top-scoring with 12 league goals. That was matched last term by Daniel Johnson’s 12 goals in the Championship. You could imagine that Preston might have made the play-offs in one of those campaigns had they had a striker scoring between 15 and 20 goals.
Preston have handed Ched Evans a new deal already, but he is not a prolific scorer anymore especially at Championship level. Then the support acts of Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen are able to chip in with some goals but nowhere near the volume that would be needed on their own. The Lilywhites have to try and find a reliable scorer in the summer, if not another mid-table campaign beckons.