Preston are back in action on Wednesday evening, hosting Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale as Alex Neil seeks a result.
The Scot finds himself under pressure at Deepdale after a poor start to 2021, though there have been understandable reasons for the disappointing results.
January saw eight players come in and eight players leave, meaning Neil is having to cope with losing key players whilst bedding in a host of new faces.
There has been something strange in recent games though, and that’s with the absence of Tom Bayliss from the matchday squad.
Bayliss hasn’t really lived up to the £1.2million fee Preston paid for him in August 2019, but that’s partly because he has barely been given chances in the first team.
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Built up as one of the Football League’s most progressive passers, Bayliss has managed just 17 appearances for Preston, and just one Championship start.
Bayliss actually played well in that start, showing promise in the 1-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest in the first game of 2021 – but he’s barely been seen since.
He was hauled off after just 45 minutes against Wycombe a week later having turned in a clunky performance as part of a midfield diamond, and literally hasn’t kicked a ball since.
In the four games since the end of the January transfer window, Bayliss hasn’t even been on the bench, completely disappearing from first-team reckoning once again.
Was he really that bad at Wycombe to not even play again in the ensuing six weeks? Not really; there were many who were worse than Bayliss that day. There has been no word on an injury either.
Other midfielders have arrived in Jayson Molumby and Ben Whiteman, but for Bayliss not to even be on the bench is another dent to his hopes of becoming a Preston ace.
This can’t continue. Bayliss clearly has potential, but he’s wasting away at North End. If Neil doesn’t think he’s ready, then he should have been loaned out for consistent playing time elsewhere.
If a new manager does come in at some point soon, then getting the best out of Bayliss has to be a top priority.