When Preston swooped to land Scott Sinclair in January, fans were understandably excited by such a big-name addition.
Sinclair had played in the Premier League with Swansea City, Manchester City and Aston Villa, before heading to Celtic in 2016.
Upon reuniting with Brendan Rodgers, Sinclair was a star. He racked up 62 goals in 167 games for the Bhoys, becoming a fan favourite at Parkhead.
Sinclair was a winner; he racked up three league titles, three Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups, making him part of the treble treble side that will go down in history.
With North End seeking more quality in the final third, an ambitious move was struck for Sinclair in January, seemingly breaking the club’s wage structure to bring him to Deepdale.
The verdict on Sinclair’s time at Preston has been mixed so far. He hasn’t quite been a consistent game-changer, and often goes through games being ultimately pretty quiet.
However, it’s maybe time to start thinking of Sinclair for what he is now rather than what he was at Swansea or Celtic, given that he is now 31.
Sinclair doesn’t have the blistering pace that saw him become a star in Scotland; he isn’t going to blaze past players for fun anymore, using skill rather than speed to beat defenders, but we can certainly appreciate the player he is now.
Sinclair has shown that he is clinical. He has managed six goals in 15 starts for Preston, whilst taking just 28 shots in his 22 appearances for North End.
We saw this against Brentford. Sinclair only had two shots on goal against the Bees, but scored with both of them. In truth, when those chances fell to Sinclair, you never really thought he was going to miss.
This may have been Sinclair’s best display in a Preston shirt. He completed a team-high four dribbles, made one key pass, and regularly showed his experience and understanding when North End were 4-2 up by knowing when to slow the game down and when to step on the gas.
When Preston needed somebody to step up and be clinical in the final third, it was Sinclair who did so. It was the same at Luton Town last season, and at Sheffield Wednesday. He even changed the game as a substitute against Derby County in the Carabao Cup this season.
Sinclair’s quality is shining through, and he’s seemingly getting better and better in a Preston shirt as he continues to adapt to life under Alex Neil, emerging as a go-to man for goals.
His best appearances seem to be coming away from home, so there is still work to be done on getting the best out of Sinclair at Deepdale, where he has only scored once.
Yet whilst fans maybe haven’t got the Sinclair they expected based on his time at Celtic, he is still becoming key at North End – and if he continues to find the net, the wages will be well worth it.