As far as a squad for the upcoming 2021-22 season goes, Preston North End look set in most positions going into the start of pre-season.
The Lilywhites have some tests coming up against the likes of Wigan Athletic, Celtic and St. Johnstone but they are just warm-ups for the real thing, which begins on August 7 when Hull City visit Deepdale.
North End have been getting incoming business done early, with Sepp van den Berg returning on loan, Liam Lindsay coming back on a permanent deal and the free transfer signings of Izzy Brown and Matthew Olosunde have been tied up.
PNE are expecting Daniel Iversen to return on loan as well after a verbal agreement was reportedly struck with Leicester City, and if new permanent head coach Frankie McAvoy is planning on sticking with the 3-5-2 formation that worked so well in the last eight games of the season, then most positions are pretty much set.
You could argue that a striker is needed but that may come further down the line – now though the focus looks to be on where North End could cut down the squad slightly.
With Izzy Brown’s arrival from Chelsea it has left the Lilywhites with a surplus of players whose best role is in the most advanced central midfield position – better known as the ‘number 10’.
You’d imagine that given the way they finished the season the pairing of Ben Whiteman and Ryan Ledson is pretty secure, but that third spot in the midfield is well and truly up for grabs.
Alan Browne is the obvious choice to start with as he’s the captain and proved to be incredibly effective in that particular role in the 2018-19 season where he scored 12 Championship goals.
He would probably get the nod over Brown and Brad Potts at this moment in time, and there’s one other player who has perhaps been forgotten about in Daniel Johnson.
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After he scored 12 goals and assisted a further seven times in 33 Championship matches in the 2019-20 season, Johnson was a transfer target for Scottish giants Rangers last summer, but following a failed bid from Steven Gerrard’s side the Jamaica international remained at Deepdale.
Johnson scored just four times last season in what was a stop-start campaign – he wasn’t a regular starter under Alex Neil by the time 2021 came around and he didn’t feature in Frankie McAvoy’s temporary reign due to injury.
Despite signing a new contract back in January, there’s a bit of a sense that the club could listen to offers for Johnson if one came in, but because of his below-par 2020-21 campaign the same interest may not come like it did this time last year.
If it does though, North End should consider perhaps listening to offers for the 28-year-old due to the backlog of talent they have in the attacking midfield position as McAvoy will have a hard job keeping every midfielder he has on the books happy as of right now.