When Preston signed Scott Sinclair from Celtic in January, it’s fair to say fans were hugely excited.
For once, it seemed like North End had finally pushed the boat out for somebody of proven quality. Sinclair had smashed 62 goals in 167 games for Celtic, helping them win three successive trebles.
Sinclair was Preston’s main target to replace Callum Robinson last summer, but no deal could be done. Andre Green was signed instead, but as he struggled, Sinclair was back on the radar – and this time, Preston got it done.
At 30, Sinclair still has plenty left in the tank, and Preston fans were hoping that he could provide the magic that North End had been lacking in attack.
A quick look at the Preston squad for the last two games will show you that Sinclair has been on the bench for big games away at West Bromwich Albion and Fulham. He managed just 30 minutes as a substitute in those games.
So what’s the verdict on his first couple of months at Deepdale?
It probably hasn’t gone quite as swimmingly as Sinclair would have hoped. He’s managed just one goal in 10 Championship appearances, though it was a beautiful strike against Swansea City.
Sinclair himself will be frustrated not to have scored more than one, especially given the golden chance he had against Wigan Athletic. Since that goal against Swansea, his WhoScored match ratings haven’t even managed to reach 6.5.
Last weekend, Preston hero Paul McKenna admitted that he hasn’t been all that impressed by Sinclair, and fans have been left a little underwhelmed with his first 10 games in a Preston shirt.
There are two problems we would like to highlight though; the first being that Sinclair shouldn’t have been the one attacking addition in January. Even after he signed, we suggested that a centre forward was needed on top of Sinclair, as all the hopes couldn’t be placed in the Sinclar basket.
Instead, North End’s one signing in January was Sinclair. That loaded all the expectation onto the winger’s shoulders, basically making it clear that Preston thought Sinclair could be the big difference between the first half of the season and a hopefully successful second half.
That was simply too much. Sinclair is a good player, but he isn’t a centre forward. North End are clearly lacking a goalscoring number nine, and adding such a player alongside Sinclair would’ve eased some of the burden on the ex-Celtic man.
Additionally, Sinclair is essentially trying to play his way back into form and fitness. He managed just seven appearances for Celtic in the first half of the season, and only three came after the August deadline. Put simply, Sinclair has barely played this season, and needs time to get himself back to his best.
Hopefully that comes with playing time, and Alex Neil has generally been giving Sinclair an hour or so before bringing him off. It will be a gradual process with Sinclair, but hopefully we can see the best of him towards the end of the season before really seeing him kick on next term. Patience is certainly needed with him – and his proven record suggests he’s earned that patience.