Championship clubs will soon be getting active in the transfer market following the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, with the final match to be played on Sunday as Nottingham Forest take on Huddersfield Town in the play-off final.
For the rest of the 23 confirmed outfits in next season’s second tier though, work can get underway to shape squads, and in some cases it already has begun for some.
Preston North End are one club who will be looking to strengthen a few different positions this summer as they aim to push for the play-offs, with a 13th placed finish last season putting them in a decent position to push forward next year.
There are seemingly some priority positions for manager Ryan Lowe to address this summer, with a goalkeeper, a striker and wing-backs all on the agenda.
Quiz: Can you name which club Preston North End sold these 23 players to from the last decade?
However, some new centre-backs may be needed as well, with Bambo Diaby yet to sign a new extended contract at Deepdale and Jordan Storey’s future up in the air following his loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday in League One.
In addition to that, German giant Patrick Bauer perhaps isn’t the same player as he was before his achilles injury in December 2020, but that’s a matter of opinion.
At least one centre-back will be needed anyway in the wake of Sepp van den Berg’s loan ending, and the free agent market could be explored by Lowe.
Having addressed the need of more Championship experience in his squad, North End should be looking for a player like Michael Hector, who is now without a club having been released by title-winning Fulham.
If you look at Hector’s list of clubs he’s played for, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s the archetypical journeyman, but a lot of his loan spells came when he was a young man at Reading, where he joined no fewer than 11 different clubs.
Chelsea saw enough ability in him from his performances for the Royals though to sign him in 2015, but he never made an appearance for the Blues as he ended up being farmed out on loan again multiple times.
In that time though, Hector gained lots of Championship experience – alongside his 80 appearances for Reading there were 36 outings for Hull City and a further 37 with Sheffield Wednesday, and at Fulham he played in all 23 games during the 2019-20 season following his January arrival.
It’s not gone as well for the Jamaica international since the 2020-21 season though, with just four Premier League outings to his name that season and he was out of favour under Marco Silva this past season as well, playing just four times in the Championship.
That’s why his release from the Cottagers was inevitable, but he will still feel as though he has a lot to offer at Championship level.
Hector is a comfortable passer of the ball, he is strong, stands at six feet three inches tall and is relatively quick for his size – all of that would be ideal for Lowe’s back three at North End.
The only issue would be the fact that other Championship clubs – one who can perhaps offer more in wages than North End – will be interested in the 29-year-old, so that is a bit of a draw back.
North End though have the chance to get involved and try to bring Hector to Deepdale – it’s one they should execute.