This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Championship side Preston North End have taken former Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham on trial at Deepdale, ahead of a potential move to Lancashire.
28-year-old Wickham made 50 appearances in what was an unsuccessful six seasons at Selhurst Park, a time ruined by his injuries after joining from Sunderland in 2015 for a £7m fee.
But they were unable to recoup any of the money they splashed out on him and released the forward on the expiration of his contract in south London this summer.
Quiz: Have Preston North End won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
After recording a reasonably impressive 11 goals and five assists in the 50 appearances he did make for Palace, Wickham will be desperate to put his injuries behind him in a bid to earn a fresh start elsewhere.
A Championship move seems the most likely at this stage with the forward training with Preston North End and coming to watch them in action in their 1-0 win against Peterborough United at the weekend.
Frankie McAvoy’s side have been crying out for a striker for most of the summer with Emil Riis struggling in his first season at Deepdale – and with the Lilywhites free from any EFL restrictions – a deal for free agent Wickham should be easy to get over the line.
Ahead of this potential move, we ask three of our FLW writers whether he would be a good signing for the Lancashire side – and if he would be a much-needed figure for manager McAvoy.
That has blown my mind a little that Connor Wickham is still only 28 years old, but it also enhances his value in the free agent market.
It is positive for Preston North End supporters to have a player of his calibre training with the club, giving Frankie McAvoy the opportunity to assess his fitness and skill level after a rough final couple of years at Crystal Palace.
A fit and firing Wickham would be right up there in terms of Championship strikers, it is just whether or not that player is still in there.
He managed just two Premier League 2 appearances last season and would need some patience before becoming match fit, however if his wage demands are not too lofty then the potential upside would make this deal worthwhile for North End, who are desperate for some added impetus up front.
Equally as effective bringing other players into the game, Wickham’s addition could see an increased output from the likes of Scott Sinclair and Sean Maguire running off of him. If he can prove his fitness, it would be a positive signing.
I’ve made my thoughts very clear on this in another article but I’m really not sure a player with Wickham’s recent record is what North End need right now.
PNE have been chasing a striker all summer and now the Liam Delap chase is officially over they now have to explore alternatives.
There’s no issue with looking at certain players and taking them in for training, but when it’s a player like Wickham who didn’t play a single minute of senior football last season and has played just 29 times in the previous three years then it’s not a risk I think North End should be taking.
You have to factor in Wickham’s injury history as well. PNE already signed an injury-prone player this summer in Izzy Brown and they’ve paid the price with the 24-year-old unfortunately breaking down in training with an achilles injury – the kind of thing which fans were concerned about happening from the moment he signed.
PNE should be putting all their eggs into signing a younger striker who knows where the back of the net is, even if that player does cost a seven-figure fee, or taking a chance on a young Premier League loanee instead of a player who despite clearly having good technical ability, is more likely to spend time in the treatment room than on the pitch.
He wouldn’t be my first choice in truth, but simply put, Preston could do with bolstering their forward line.
On his day, Wickham can be a real handful though he’s just not had many of them ‘days’ in recent seasons as he’s suffered with countless injuries.
He certainly does need a fresh start and Deepdale could be somewhere that he re-finds his former successes, but you do have to question whether Preston can afford to be pinning their hopes on him given his track record with injuries.
This deal would need to be financially sound for Preston as funds are tight at Deepdale and they should not be paying over the odds in-terms of wages to bring him in.
Though, if terms were sensible, he could add a new dimension to Preston’s attack as they try to find a striker who will hit the back of the net more consistently than their current crop.