Preston have made just one signing so far this summer, but Alex Neil is looking to strengthen a host of positions.
North End need additions in a number of areas, and we’ve voiced our concerns about the wide options recently. Callum Robinson’s future is unclear, and Tom Barkhuizen is in the final year of his contract. Billy Bodin is only just back from a year out, and Josh Ginnelly is on the fringes.
Yes, other players – Brad Potts, Seani Maguire, Paul Gallagher, Josh Harrop – may be able to play out wide, but they’re not natural wingers. Adding more pace, especially with Robinson and Barkhuizen’s futures undecided, should be a must.
Now, North End are looking for experienced Championship performers. That’s great in certain areas of the pitch, but adding youth, exuberance and pace out wide should be a priority – especially if Robinson goes.
Last week, we named a host of players who would fit the bill as a Robinson replacement. One name we mentioned was Mallik Wilks, currently of Leeds United.
Now, the Yorkshire Post claim that Wilks is ‘likely’ to leave Leeds this summer. That’s not a huge surprise, as Leeds are making moves out wide. Jack Harrison is back, Jack Clarke is returning on loan, and Helder Costa is joining. That all pushes Wilks down the pecking order, and potentially out of Elland Road.
Barnsley are thought to be keen, as are Hull City, who are now managed by Grant McCann. McCann coached Wilks to success last season, which may leave Hull as favourites, but North End should be looking to get into the race.
Wilks has huge potential at just 20, but his record last season was sensational too. The speedy winger racked up 16 goals and 12 assists for Rovers, and now looks ready to settle down in the Championship.
He’s already torn North End part this year
That may not come with Leeds, but North End should be interested after his Deepdale performance in January. Wilks ran North End ragged in a 3-1 win for Doncaster, causing the Preston back line no end of problems. He capped off a fine display with the third goal, which again came from his speed and desire to chase a long ball.
Preston should be able to compete with Barnsley and Hull City for signings, and can maybe sell greater playoff aspirations. A fee shouldn’t blow North End out of the water, and spending on a player who starred in League One worked with Brad Potts in January.
The focus on experienced players is more than fine, but we can’t miss out on talented youngsters either. They’re how North End keep running, through major resale value. Wilks would fit that bill whilst bringing real pace to the flanks, and given that he can play on either side, he should be a prime target this summer – if Leeds really are willing to let him go.