Preston North End: Winds of Change

With just under a week to go before the transfer window slams shut and one day to go before our first Championship game of the season, Preston North End look to be striking deals and gathering momentum at the opportune moment.

With tricky winger Andre Green joining yesterday and deep-lying playmaker Tom Bayliss signing today, Preston are ramping up the transfer mechanism in a bid to make themselves as competitive as possible.

Aston Villa prospect Andre Green is raw, inexperienced and by no means the finished product, but he will become a real asset with a regular stream of minutes. And with his contract expiring next summer, he could even become a permanent fixture at the club. Although, this is unlikely given the financial pull of Aston Villa.

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Alex Neil has a proven track record of getting the most out of young prospects and this is why we should be excited, because he could be the manager to unlock a wealth of potential in Andre Green.

The same rings true for 20-year-old CM Tom Bayliss. After helping Coventry to promotion in 2018, Bayliss continued to progress at an exponential rate last season, quickly becoming one of the hottest prospects in the EFL.

Bayliss is not just a future-proof signing with a high re-sale value though, he also adds a different dimension to our midfield in the present, with his progressive attributes and passing ability.

Quite simply, Bayliss is one of the most exciting signings North End have made in years. And whether you’re a traditionalist or a footballing neoteric, the above statistics aught to catch your eye. Bayliss sitting above average for every single creative and attacking metric. But he’s also pretty handy defensively and sits within the top 10% of CMs for his tackle success %. He also ranks highly for winning aerial duels, a sense of dominance we could really do with in the middle.

But what else do Preston need in the next few days?

Well, we’ve been linked with vastly experienced striker Fraizer Campbell. The 31-year-old was involved in one goal every 145 minutes last season and would be a welcome addition.

Released by Hull simply due to the greed of a toxic family unwilling to offer a respectable contract, Hull fans were disappointed to see their frontman leave, but Preston could be the benefactors of his departure.

On a free transfer, Campbell would be a coup and one we’d be foolish to miss. However, as reported by Deepdale Digest, wages would have to be a compromise. Personally, I do not want to see the club break its current wage structure, so hopefully a compromise can be met.

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Elsewhere, journalist Pete O’Rourke has reported that we have a bid on the table for young left-back Max Lowe, who spent last season on loan at Aberdeen.

This suggests that we are in fact looking to send Josh Earl out on loan, hopefully to a club that will give him regular game time.

Earl definitely has a future at PNE, but he still has work to do, especially in terms of positioning. Perhaps it would be an option to try him on the left side of a back three. Equally he may not feel comfortable there, especially seen as he spent many of his formative years as a winger.

But that’s a discussion for another day.

Finally, I firmly believe one of the most important incomings would be a new goalkeeper. Neither Declan Rudd or Connor Ripley fill me with confidence and I think Alex Neil would agree with me there. What we need is someone commanding, someone with confidence and someone who can allow our defence to play a higher line. Maybe I’m asking for too much at this late stage, but the Premier League loan market is brimming with talented shot-stoppers just waiting to breakthrough.

But what I don’t want to do in this whirlwind of transfer talk, is undervalue the current squad. I fully concur with a piece published by ‘From The Finney‘ earlier this week, a piece which underlined the pre-existing strength of our squad, while also accepting the need for a few quality additions. In the shit storm that is the transfer window, it is easy to underestimate the tools at our disposal, but our team under Alex Neil continues to improve, which is why it would be ignorant to condemn what we already have.

Stability can often be overlooked, but while other teams experience great upheaval, Preston have maintained their core while embellishing the squad where necessary. This is a season of opportunity and I think those at the top of the hierarchy do understand that.