Ahh, it’s that time of year again.
The season is over for most clubs, and the attention is already turning to the summer transfer window.
Lists of free agents are doing the rounds all over the internet, with fans wondering where a bargain could come from. After all, Teemu Pukki and David McGoldrick fired Norwich City and Sheffield United to their respective promotions. Both were free signings last summer.
With that in mind, here are some free agents in problem areas for Preston. There’s a real mix of potential and experience here, all with the aim of bolstering Alex Neil’s squad…
Keiren Westwood – experienced goalkeeper leaving Sheffield Wednesday. Wages could be an issue, but he’s proven in this division. Would almost certainly supplant Declan Rudd and Connor Ripley immediately.
Adam Davies – strong season with Barnsley. A good age at 26, formerly of Everton and Sheffield Wednesday. One Wales cap to his name, but too similar in quality to Rudd and Ripley?
Alex Pearce – fared well on loan at Millwall, set to leave Derby. Offers experience at 30, former Ireland international. Strong, good in the air, great for Ben Davies and Jordan Storey to learn from.
Tommy Elphick – rekindled his career with Hull City this season. A leader from his time at Bournemouth, yet still only 31. Unlikely to be kept on at Aston Villa.
Patrick Bauer – still in the League One promotion mix with Charlton Athletic, racked up 36 appearances this season. Perfect age at 26, has the height, strength and aerial ability North End need.
Ryan Tafazolli – much like Bauer, Tafazolli is tall and strong, bringing height North End lack. Left-footed, meaning he can bring balance to the back four. Strong spells at Peterborough United and Mansfield Town, now approaching 28.
Tom Lockyer – set to leave Bristol Rovers, has been watched by North End over the last 18 months. Welsh international, a little on the short side, versatility as he can play at right back too. Maybe an ideal Tom Clarke successor if Preston want one.
Mark Beevers – hasn’t exactly enjoyed a great time at Bolton, but he’s big, strong and has Championship experience. Also offers that balance as a left footer.
Efe Ambrose – set to leave Derby after a nothing spell at Pride Park. Nigerian international, bags of experience at 30 with Celtic and Hibernian. May be familiar to Alex Neil from Scottish football.
Joe Mattock – one of Rotherham’s top performers despite their relegation. More than 250 Championship games under his belt, yet still only 28. Solid option to compete with Andrew Hughes if Josh Earl is loaned out.
Jonas Knudsen – Danish international, just suffered relegation with Ipswich Town. May have higher ambitions than North End, but he’s 26 with international and Championship experience. Should be on the radar.
Jake Bidwell – once superb with Brentford, now coming off the back of an up-and-down season with QPR. Hails from nearby Southport, formerly of Everton. Experienced performer in the Championship, but life in the tank at 26.
Lee Wallace – set to leave Rangers after eight years at Ibrox. Experienced leader, was captain with the Gers. Has international experience with Scotland, but approaching 32.
Craig Bryson – played regularly under Frank Lampard this season at Derby. Not quite the player he was, but a hard-working veteran at 32, and is another who Neil may be aware of from Scottish football.
James Morrison – quality midfielder on his day, but injuries regularly a concern. Only 19 league appearances this season, no goals and one assist. Almost 33, may be on the wane but offers ability on the ball.
Chris Brunt – would offer cover at left back in midfield. Possesses delivery that could rival Paul Gallagher. Now 34, Brunt has huge Premier League, Championship and international experience, but is nearing the end of his career.
Charlie Adam – just released by Stoke. Can ping a pass, will get stuck in. Ties with Blackpool may not go down well, and he’ll be 34 in December.
Reece Brown – 23-year-old attacking midfielder formerly of Birmingham City. Racked up 11 goals and 15 assists for Forest Green Rovers in League Two. Bags of potential and a record in lower leagues – ticks the boxes for North End.
Graham Carey – his star has faded somewhat, but still notched six goals and 13 assists for relegated Plymouth this season. Great left foot, ability from set pieces, audacious skill. May be better suited to League One.
Nick Powell – unlikely to move from Wigan to Preston, but you never know. Got his career back on track with the Latics, eight goals and six assists this season. Only 25, would bring more goal threat to Neil’s side.
Sammie Szmodics – much like Brown, great record in League Two. 14 goals and nine assists in the league for Colchester United this season, quick, diminutive and skilful. Has tons of potential at 23.
Marc Pugh – the sort of experienced quality North End should look at. 32 now, but impressed on loan at Hull City with three goals and one assist in 14 games. Set to leave Bournemouth, hard working and good on the ball but lacking pace at his age.
Kadeem Harris – about to turn 26, Harris needs regular playing time now. Only made three league starts at Cardiff this season, but offers pace and trickery on the left flank.
Gavin Massey – Five goals in 20 games this season. Predominantly a right winger, decent turn of pace. Decent age at 26, attracting interest from a number of Championship clubs as a free agent.
Jon Taylor – not exactly the most exciting option, but a hard-working winger with good pace. 27 this summer, scored four goals this season but is another who may be better off in League One.
Ruben Lameiras – ex-Tottenham winger starred for Plymouth this season, grabbing 12 goals and nine assists. Wanted by Bordeaux according to The Guardian, skilful and creative, only turns 25 in December.
David Nugent – former North End hero, bags of experience in play-off and promotion teams. Only two goals for Derby County this season and really losing his powers, but an emotional return could still make sense.
Fraizer Campbell – almost 32, but enjoyed a great season with 12 goals and six assists. Looks set to leave Hull City, and he will be in-demand as a proven Championship goalscorer.
Tom Eaves – now 27, ready for the Championship. 22 goals in 50 games this season, after 18 goals last term. Towering striker with outstanding aerial ability, somewhat similar to Andy Carroll. Yet with Jayden Stockley on board, another target man may be redundant.
Tomer Hemed – Seven goals in 27 games on loan at QPR this summer. Set to leave Brighton, plenty of Championship experience at 32. Decent goalscorer when fit.