Preston North End’s striker search before the transfer deadline closes on August 31 is becoming desperate, and they’re searching all avenues for a solution.
And the latest road the Lilywhites have gone down is taking Connor Wickham on trial following his release from Crystal Palace this summer.
The 28-year-old was once transferred to Sunderland earlier in his career for a fee in excess of £12 million, but injuries suffered throughout the forward’s time as a player has restricted him to less than 250 competitive games in 12 years.
Wickham joined Crystal Palace in 2015 for £7 million and after scoring six times in 24 outings in his debut campaign with the Eagles, things quickly went downhill at Selhurst Park due to injuries – most notably one to his knee in 2016 which set him back for over a year.
Having not played a competitive game of football since 2020 when on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, Wickham has arrived on trial at North End with a point to prove and also fitness to prove.
Wickham trained with North End at Euxton at least once last week, per LancsLive, before attending Deepdale for PNE’s 1-0 victory over Peterborough and taking a part in the post-match warm-downs on the pitch.
Frankie McAvoy confirmed that it was Wickham’s agent that came to the club to ask if they could see what the striker was about and that if he’s not the right fit for North End or if he doesn’t impress in training then they will move on and look elsewhere.
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It does feel as though PNE’s need for a new striker is desperate – in their opening four Championship matches they have scored just three times – one a penalty, one from a centre-back and the other being from forward Emil Riis.
The amount of chances wasted against Posh at the weekend will have frustrated McAvoy and someone who knows where the back of the net is will be wanted desperately – Wickham does indeed have technical ability and a goalscoring touch but keeping him away from the treatment room is the biggest problem.
Despite that though I can see North End taking a punt on him as a low-risk signing, providing that Wickham does not demand too much in the way of wages – but only if he’s fit enough to make an immediate impact at Deepdale.