Preston North End fans were hoping for an influx of summer signings after a season of transition last time round.
Key players such as Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Darnell Fisher moved on, whilst others like Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson have never properly been replaced.
A busy January hinted towards a similarly active summer, and with a new manager in charge you would have thought he would want to make his own mark on the club.
However Matthew Olusunde, Jamie Thomas and Izzy Brown remain the only new players coming into the club.
Olusunde has barely featured in pre-season, whilst Brown ruptured his achilles which was devastating as he could have been a secret weapon this season.
The Brown signing had pointed towards a type of signing Frankie McAvoy had been looking for; a young Premier League player who had lost his way a little bit, and needed a base to kick on from.
Non-league addition Jamie Thomas could be a hidden gem and it will be intriguing to see how he gets on.
Yet there have been no other incomings that have even come close since then. Of course Daniel Iversen, Liam Lindsay and Sepp van den Berg have returned to the club following their spells last season, but the squad definitely needs further impovement.
The lack of attacking threat is obvious, and it seems to be the same case every summer for North End, that a striker is of high priority but we are often left disappointed. Ched Evans, Emil Riis and Sean Maguire remain the striker options at the moment, but with McAvoy having a preference of playing two up front, another is needed. Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair can play there, but with the new season nearly upon us, we may see a few fresh faces get a chance.
Youth scholars and first year professionals have been featuring heavily in pre-season and players developed by the club took up a lot of the squad numbers that were released last week. Whilst in recent seasons players like Jack Baxter, Adam O’Reilly and Ethan Walker haven’t featured as much as they would have liked, it could be different this season.
The centre of midfield is a competitive area of the squad, but aside from Baxter and O’Reilly we have Lewis Leigh coming through the ranks. The 17-year-old was handed the number 17 shirt last week and came on against Wigan Athletic in the friendly last Friday.
He seems to have already caught the eye of other clubs, with Football.London claiming Arsenal, Everton, Leicester City and West Ham United are tracking the midfielder.
Whilst it’s always great to see new signings play for the club, it’s equally as fascinating watching a young player make his first steps in professional football too. Seeing ‘one of our own’ in action is exciting and you will them on to succeed.
Aside from Lewis Leigh, there may be opportunities in attacking areas, and Joe Rodwell-Grant certainly did himself no harm when he scored Preston’s second goal in the aforementioned game against Wigan. It clearly meant a lot to him as well.
Jacob Holland-Wilkinson is another striker to have signed his first professional contract in May, and having featured on the bench a few times last season he will fancy his chances.
If it’s not going to be the experienced, prolific striker we all want, then hopefully we can see some new stars breaking into the first team, and giving us something to be excited about.
There is Noah Mawene too, who shone in the friendly against Bamber Bridge last month, and is likely to be training with the first-team squad this season – and this could be the season for Preston’s young talents to really emerge.