Preston North End’s 1-0 loss to Huddersfield Town was an incredibly alarming result for the Lilywhites for more reasons than one – and fans are becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the club.
PNE’s third league defeat in a row rooted them to the foot of the Championship table, and they were defeated by a Terriers side who had zero shots on target, with Sepp van den Berg putting the ball into his own goal in the second half.
North End huffed and puffed throughout the match without creating much, and the full time whistle brought a chorus of boos from the away end who were clearly unhappy with what they witnessed.
With new recruits Izzy Brown and Matthew Olosunde on the sidelines, PNE’s squad on Tuesday night was the exact same one that ended the 2020-21 season, but the good form hasn’t continued into the new campaign and now more than ever it appears that new blood is needed.
A striker has been sought after all summer but there has been no luck on that front so far, but it looks as though other positions also need addressing.
What wasn’t to be expected though due to the fact that Frankie McAvoy seems intent on using a 3-5-2 formation with no wingers is for a wide player to be linked with a move to the club, with sources on the south coast indicating that Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis is a transfer target.
The Lilywhites have stepped up their interest in the 25-year-old Republic of Ireland international according to the Portsmouth News, and he’s a player who has hit 31 league goals in the last three seasons in League One.
A move for Curtis wouldn’t make much sense though – mainly because McAvoy has refused to really budge from a formation that doesn’t use wingers.
Curtis’ biggest threat comes from the left wing where he’s able to cut inside onto his right foot and get shots away, and if he were to be snapped up by North End right now he wouldn’t really fit in.
He could probably be effective in an attacking midfield role but PNE have a number of players who believe their best position is there – Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Brad Potts to name a few.
If Curtis really is a North End transfer target then McAvoy must have a ‘plan B’ up his sleeve, and it must include utilising wingers because Curtis does not really fit anywhere else.
Quiz: Have Preston North End won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
North End fans have been crying out for someone direct and who will attack a full-back as the wing-backs in Sepp van den Berg and either Greg Cunningham and Josh Earl cannot really do that, and even though there was success with this system at the back end of the 2020-21 campaign it just isn’t working now.
Whilst a player of Curtis’ profile is quite exciting on paper, he could also just be another Billy Bodin or Jayden Stockley who failed to step up from League One and Two and make a real impact.
North End have done some of their best business over the years by plucking young players from Premier League reserve teams – think Callum Robinson and Ben Pearson – and it’s an avenue they should be looking to travel down again.
Curtis joining would be welcomed no doubt, however it will be a steep figure to pay and it could be better spent elsewhere and on different areas of the pitch.