Preston North End may have just secured the permanent acquisition of Liam Lindsay from Stoke City – but that doesn’t mean they are done when it comes to shopping for centre-backs.
New head coach Frankie McAvoy opted to use a 3-5-2 formation when taking charge of the final eight games of the 2020-21 campaign and it worked well, with North End keeping five clean sheets in that period.
North End may seem quite well-stocked at centre-back now, especially if you presume that Sepp van den Berg will sign once again on loan from Liverpool, but it’s a bit more complex than that.
Patrick Bauer will be returning from a long-term achilles injury which has kept him out of action since the beginning of December 2020, whilst Paul Huntington wasn’t played by McAvoy during his caretaker spell at the end of the campaign.
His last appearance coming in March under Alex Neil and he will be 34 years old in September, and then you’ve got Jordan Storey who was ever-present under McAvoy and also Andrew Hughes, who was the starting left-sided player in a back three.
There may be a need for one more centre-back though due to the uncertainty around Bauer and Huntington, atnd North End should use links to one of their former reliable left-backs to secure a deal for a promising League One player.
Matt Hill spent three-and-a-half years at Deepdale between 2005 and 2008 before moving on to Wolves – he still resides in the Preston area and his 19-year-old son James has been impressive for Fleetwood Town recently.
21 things every Preston North End fan should know about their club, so can you score 100% on this?
Hill became the Cod Army’s youngest ever player when he was 16 in August 2018, appearing in an EFL Cup game against Leicester City, but it wasn’t until this past season in 2020-21 where Hill became a first-team regular.
Playing 28 times in League One – the majority coming in the second half of the season under Simon Grayson – Hill has developed into a solid teenager for that level and Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley revealed months ago that the club were inundated with Premier League scouts trying to flock to Highbury Stadium – perhaps to watch Hill in action.
Fleetwood triggered an option in Hill’s contract to extend it by an extra year but further fresh terms have been put on the table to extend that stay – but using Hill’s family links to the club and the area North End could capture a wildly talented individual and perhaps make some money in years to come.