When Andre Green arrived at Preston, he was billed as a direct replacement for Callum Robinson.
Even beyond their Aston Villa upbringings, the comparisons were easy to make. Both players are predominantly left wingers, cutting inside to cause problems.
Robinson also played as a striker in patches though, and it’s becoming clear that Green has been signed up to play a similar role too – despite having no real experience there.
It started when the LEP claimed North End were looking away from free agent Fraizer Campbell, in favour of signing Green. That seemed strange given that Campbell is an out and out striker, whilst Green is a winger, but the Villa loanee then played as a striker in a bounce game earlier this month.
That seemed like an experiment at first, as Green played as a left winger against Bradford last week. That went well as Green scored, opening his Preston account. Yet when Louis Moult suffered a potentially season-ending injury at Swansea, Green was brought on.
Despite having Jayden Stockley at his disposal, Alex Neil went with Green. He didn’t exactly impress, but he may end up playing there again tomorrow night.
Preston welcome Stoke City to Deepdale on Wednesday night, and with Moult out of action, it’s unclear who leads the line. Seani Maguire has looked better on the left, and Stockley doesn’t appear to be in favour under Neil right now.
That means Green has a real chance of starting as a striker, with his movement potentially key against big Stoke defenders. Green himself has told the LEP that he’s not familiar with the role, but with a lack of options, he may end up there again.
That may be a surprise to many Villa fans, as few would have predicted that he’d end up as a striker when they loaned him out. It’s still early days in this experiment, but it currently seems more likely that Green will start than Stockley in a surprise twist by Neil.
This almost feels like a by-product of North End’s poor attacking recruitment rather than a conscious decision, but here we are. Hopefully Green can grow into the role just like Robinson did, but having to use an inexperienced winger as a main striker is a sad indictment on the disappointing summer window.
No striker at the club fits what Neil wants; a physical centre forward with the ability to press and run the channels, having failed to really replace Jordan Hugill. Sadly, no striker to fit that mould arrived in the summer, which was a huge surprise.
Green could at least drag Stoke defenders around, dropping deep whilst allowing Maguire and Billy Bodin to cut infield and support the attack, similar to when Robinson played the ‘false nine’ role under Neil in the 2017-18 season.
That’s surely not what Neil’s ideal attack would look like, but with the transfer window closed, he has to make do with what he has – and that may see Green pressed into a striking role again.