Preston North End have had a positive start to their pre-season campaign as they step up their efforts before the 2021-22 Championship season kicks off.
After a goal-fest against local non-league side Bamber Bridge, which saw the Lilywhites win 8-3, Frankie McAvoy’s side drew 1-1 with Scottish cup-double winners St. Johnstone, and at the famous Celtic Park PNE were able to grab a 1-0 win over Celtic thanks to a Ben Whiteman penalty.
North End looked to be well-drilled right now on the basis of their performances now and also in McAvoy’s eight caretaker games in charge at the end of last season, but there’s still more incoming and outgoing transfer business to be done.
Let’s round up the latest news going on at Deepdale as we get closer to the new campaign kicking off.
Rafferty attracting Black Cats interest
Having missed the last month or so of the 2020-21 campaign due to injury, Joe Rafferty has returned for pre-season and has played at both right-back and left-back – the former is his natural role but he’s played in both for North End in the Championship.
According to Alan Nixon though, Rafferty is attracting interest from the league below as Sunderland are keen to take him on a loan deal.
The Black Cats need depth in both full-back positions and it would make sense for him to be targeted due to his experience in the second tier, however the Lancashire Post believe that PNE would be reluctant to let the 27-year-old go due to the versatility he provides.
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Ripley set for move after pre-season absence?
After starting on the opening day of last season against Swansea City, Connor Ripley did not make another league appearance for North End and it’s looked likely that with a year left on his deal he will be moved on this summer.
That has become more apparent following PNE’s pre-season trip to Scotland, as there was no place for Ripley on the trip with Mathew Hudson being Declan Rudd’s understudy, whilst first year professional Oliver Lombard also went up as the third choice.
Dave Seddon believes that Ripley was not with the squad because he is likely to move on from Deepdale this summer, and you’d imagine that he will be seeking a permanent departure due to his lack of chances.
McAvoy wants to add a striker
North End’s summer signings have almost been all in defence, aside from Izzy Brown with the attacking midfielder arriving from Chelsea.
What most PNE fans want though is a 15 to 20 goal a season striker that will get them into the play-offs and perhaps into the Premier League, but they tend to cost a bit of money in both transfer fees and wages, and they may have to wait until later on in the window to make a move.
Frankie McAvoy’s comments weeks ago suggested he wanted to work with what he had for now, however in a recent interview with BBC Radio Lancashire, the Scot has admitted he is hopeful that they can get a deal over the line if the right player comes on the radar, whilst also saying that there are now certain players that they are looking at bringing in if it’s viable to do so.