Alex Neil’s desire for a new goalkeeper is clear.
Aro Muric, the towering Manchester City stopper, was Neil’s preferred target, but after missing out to Nottingham Forest, it begs the question – are we still in the market for a fresh pair of gloves?
If so, with the help of EFL encyclopedia Gabriel Sutton, I’ve picked out three stoppers that Alex Neil could take a look at.
1 – Aaron Ramsdale
Jordan Pickford and Sam Johnstone are two names that Preston fans will look back on fondly. One is now England’s number one while the other has had successful spells with both Aston Villa and West Brom.
And these two incredibly talented shot-stoppers both came from the Premier League loan market.
With that in mind, why not stick our hands back into a market that gave us such high levels of success?
Makes sense, right?
Bournemouth have nurtured some brilliant young talent in recent years and stopper Aaron Ramsdale looks set to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Callum Wilson, Harry Arter and Lewis Cook.
And Preston should look at capturing the services of Ramsdale who is on the look out for a season of Championship experience.
After an impressive loan spell with Wimbledon that saw him earn the club’s Young Player of the Year award, Ramsdale is tipped to become a Premier League regular.
It was a risky move joining a Wimbledon side doomed for relegation, but he took the job raring to go and played a large part in the Don’s survival. In March, Ramsdale was awarded the League One Player of the Month award, after keeping four clean sheets.
Quite often Premier League loanees are accused of lacking desire. But this hasn’t been the case with Ramsdale, who became a cult hero at Wimbledon in just five months, earning himself the affectionate nickname ‘Rambo’.
What gives the young stopper an edge over most is his positional sense and laser sharp reflexes.
Ramsdale reads the game extremely well, knowing when to come off his line and quash the attack, but also where to be in the six yard box.
While he has been accused of being too eager at times, Ramsdale is a stopper Preston should consider, but they will have to act quick with Huddersfield also interested in the 21-year-old.
2 – Alex Cairns
Now, this one would be a real catch (no fishing pun intended…)
The Fleetwood number one has cemented himself as one of League One’s best keepers after he kept 16 clean sheets last season – a record only two keepers bettered in the third tier.
Cairns’ big breakthrough came with Fleetwood and with the 26-year-old quickly approaching his prime years, Preston would be wise to make a move soon.
Cairns has played over a century of games for Fleetwood and is highly regarded within the club for both his professionalism and ability. While Fleetwood will be desperate to tie him down, a move to Preston could prove quite tempting.
Cairns is a bit like Maxwell in the sense that he is not afraid to come off his line, but he is much more measured in his approach and makes a lot less goal line exits per 90 minutes.
Positionally, Cairns is brilliant and he has the reflexes to match. To be honest, he’s just a really good all-round keeper.
I mean just check out this video for proof:
But, the big catch to signing the Cod Army number one would be Fleetwood’s valuation.
Last week Fleetwood announced the signing of Paul Coutts, an incredible coup for the League One side and one that perhaps shows their desire to really make a promotion push.
Fleetwood seem to be in no mood to sell and with two years left on his current deal, Cairns could be pricey.
But if Preston are serious about signing a new keeper, there aren’t many better than Alex Cairns.
3 – Christian Walton
After spending the past two seasons on loan at Wigan Athletic, Brighton goalkeeper Christian Walton will be looking for a move elsewhere in order to maintain his upward trajectory.
There will be plenty of Championship interest in the coveted shot-stopper who Brighton have valued at £4 million.
But, Preston could look to take Walton on a season-long loan with the option to buy next summer.
The former Plymouth youth product played a pivotal role in Wigan’s promotion season, before re-joining the club on-loan for the 2018-19 campaign.
In the 2017-18 season, Walton kept 19 clean sheets in 31 appearances as the Latics were promoted as Champions. Walton conceded just 0.57 goals per game that season, and although that average jumped to 1.3 last season, this was in a Wigan side fighting for survival.
Standing at 6ft 5in, Walton is a commanding stopper with quick hands and confidence.
I mean just take a look back at Wigan’s game away at Leeds in April. Miraculously, Wigan won 2-1 and Walton made a mammoth 10 saves, including a penalty stop.
With a better defence in front of him, Walton will be an immense keeper at Championship level and one Preston should take a closer look at.