Preston North End will have to make some harsh decisions come the January transfer window, with the squad already overloaded with a number of players.
They’ve had to chop and change who makes the cut in their 25-man squad and it has meant a number of players have been left out and will find their only action coming from the club’s academy games until at least the next registration period.
There’s also an issue in terms of future signings – if North End want to strengthen a certain position, then that will only add one extra player into the mix and it will mean another face will surely have to depart.
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It means that boss Frankie McAvoy should prepare for a winter transfer window of change and he should get rid of as many unwanted bodies as possible.
So who could and should be offloaded?
We’ve already looked at one potential departure in more detail with our piece on Josh Harrop.
The attacking midfielder has looked bright and potentially has more to offer but with injuries curtailing his progress and not much room left for him in the team, he could be one of the first to be offered up to potential buyers.
Another would be Connor Ripley. The goalkeeper has failed to make much of an impression since his move to Deepdale and will find gametime even harder to come by now. With Daniel Iversen, Declan Rudd and even Matt Hudson above him in the pecking order, then he too will need to find a new club if he wants more action. North End don’t look like they have plans to give playing time to him anytime soon, so the best option is for him to depart too.
Joe Rafferty can be a useful option and he is certainly versatile but he’s come in for some criticism for his performances in the full-back area and PNE are already fairly stacked in that department with Matthew Olosunde, Greg Cunningham, Josh Earl, Sepp Van Den Berg and Andrew Hughes. A full-back was a priority in some fans eyes back in summer and arguably still is going forward and for a new face to come in, Rafferty would likely have to be shown the exit door.
Finally, in North End’s hunt for a new striker to bag the goals for them, they signed Ched Evans, Connor Wickham and even Jamie Thomas over the summer transfer window.
The former of the three looked bright in the last campaign but hasn’t been given much of a chance so far this year and doesn’t look likely to cement a regular starting berth anytime soon either. Wickham has also suffered an injury that will mean he can’t feature and it may mean that his short stint at PNE needs to be cut short in the turn of the new year. Finally, the experiment with Jamie Thomas doesn’t look like it will be given chance either, as he was sacrificed and cut from the squad list.
If he isn’t given the chance to try and impress, then he may have to make room as well – especially if the Lilywhites are on the lookout for another new striking option when the next transfer window opens.
Frankie McAvoy then will have a job on his hands. The issue is that Preston will need to bring in some new signings in certain areas – a backup RB maybe, a younger striker with more resale value or perhaps another winger in case of a formation change – and the only way that will happen is if players currently at Deepdale leave.
Some big decisions will need to be made and McAvoy will have to be strong-willed in his chopping of some of the deadwood. If they can clear out enough in the winter window though, it would freshen up the squad though and allow them to bring in more of the calibre of players they want to kick on and try and get back towards those play-off places.
If they elect to keep these players though, then they’ll end up with an oversized squad of players that may not make the cut at Championship level on a regular basis.