After looking for a striker all summer, Preston North End are taking a look at former Premier League forward Connor Wickham in training following his release from Crystal Palace.
The 28-year-old played just twice during the 2020-21 season – that was only for the Eagles’ under-23 side – after spending much of the campaign on the sidelines and his six-year stint at Selhurst Park was brought to an end at the conclusion of his contract this summer.
Wickham has yet to find a new club though and after a call from the player’s agent, head coach Frankie McAvoy has decided to take a look at the striker to see if he can offer anything new to what the Scot already has at his disposal.
Despite Wickham being at Deepdale on Saturday along with the rest of the North End squad there is no guarantee that he will be signed up by the Lilywhites, so let’s look at three other strikers who could potentially be looked at with the window coming to a close soon.
Ask any Preston North End fans and they will tell you that it is very, very unlikely that owner Trevor Hemmings will be allowing McAvoy to spend a significant transfer fee on a new striker, especially when Emil Riis cost a seven-figure fee last season, but Charles could be a really smart investment.
Born in Preston, Charles was on the books at Blackpool as a youth team player and has spent a lot of time in non-league, but the 25-year-old really exploded into life in the 2020-21 campaign with Accrington Stanley, scoring 19 League One goals.
There is interest from Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and Barnsley according to Sky Sports but if North End added their name to the mix then surely it would be incredibly tempting for the two-cap Northern Ireland international, especially when he’s based in the city.
It’s hard to see North End splashing out another seven-figure fee for a striker though – it’s more wishful thinking but if McAvoy pushes hard enough then you never know…
12 of these 25 Preston North End facts are fake – Can you identify them?
Another player with a similar profile to Charles in the sense that he scored lots of goals in League One last season is Jephcott – but he would probably be even more expensive that the aforementioned Stanley striker.
The 21-year-old Welshman really came to people’s attentions when he went on a hot streak in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign, scoring 16 goals in 22 outings.
Following that though Jephcott went on a barren run of 19 matches without a goal to end the campaign, with alleviating fears that the youngster may have lost his touch.
That’s proven not to be the case though as Jephcott has returned at the start of this season with a vengeance, scoring four times in his first five appearances.
Back in February, Ryan Lowe stated that it would probably take around £3.5 million this summer to prize Jephcott away from Home Park – that may still be the case and if so it would price North End out completely but there’s no harm in testing the waters.
PNE were linked with a move for a striker in Liam Delap who tore the under-23 Premier League apart last season, scoring 24 times in 20 appearances for Manchester City but a loan deal has been ruled out now, with Pep Guardiola preferring to keep the 18-year-old at the club.
It doesn’t mean that there isn’t other Premier League youngsters out their waiting for an opportunity, and in Mika Biereth there is a player out there who knows where the back of the net is.
The 18-year-old recently joined Arsenal from London neighbours Fulham, and he’s already off the mark for the Gunners’ under-23 side after netting a goal and assist in a 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace at the weekend.
It was his performances in the under-18 Premier League though for the Cottagers that caught Arsenal’s attention – Biereth finished the 2020-21 season with 21 goals and 13 assists in 21 matches and that kind of record is impressive.
Biereth is clearly talented and he may be ready for some senior football – North End were unfortunate in 2017 when loaning Stephy Mavididi from Arsenal as he failed to really make an impact at Deepdale but he’s made a name for himself in France’s top tier and PNE could make a visit to north London again but this time for Biereth.