Preston geared up for Saturday’s game with Wigan Athletic by giving some fringe players a run-out in a behind-closed-doors game against Salford City at Springfields.
North End claimed the win as Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop struck, before conceding a late consolation.
It was just a bounce game, but there are a few interesting things to note from the game ahead of the transfer deadline and facing Wigan…
Josh Ginnelly – injured or heading out?
Josh Ginnelly missed the final stages of pre-season with a foot injury, and wasn’t involved a Millwall on Saturday. A bounce game was a great chance to get him back in the fold, but he wasn’t in the squad at all. There has been loan interest in Ginnelly, and his absence today is a talking point ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline.
Louis Moult not involved at all
Louis Moult is another player who wasn’t included at Millwall, and he wasn’t seen in today’s game either. There’s loan interest in Moult too, with – ironically – Salford City keen to take him on loan. There may yet be interest higher up the pyramid, but his absence today suggests a move could be in the pipeline.
Bayliss and Nugent both start
Alex Neil suggested at weekend that new signing Tom Bayliss would be involved today, and he started in midfield alongside Daniel Johnson. Bayliss got 90 minutes under his belt, and played alongside his new teammates for the first time. Additionally, striker David Nugent led the line in attack, getting 45 minutes in his legs before being substituted at half time. It’s going to be a gradual process with the 34-year-old, but he’s now played 90 minutes in the last 10 days or so, stepping up his fitness push.
Bodin and Harrop seize their chances
North End lacked a cutting edge at Millwall, but two players attempted to push for playing time against Wigan. Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop both scored in today’s win, and whilst the level of competition and the casual nature of the game must be taken into consideration, both players are dangerous, creative players who may be required to step up into Neil’s first team soon.
Tactical surprises as Rafferty and Green play in unfamiliar positions
Maybe out of necessity, maybe out of choice, but a couple of players featured in unfamiliar roles. Joe Rafferty started at left back, given that Josh Earl was loaned out to Bolton on Saturday. Cover is needed for Andrew Hughes, and with Tom Clarke seemingly ahead of Rafferty at right back, he had the chance to shine at left back. When Nugent went off at half time, new signing Andre Green moved from the left flank to play as a striker. It may well have been forced given that Moult wasn’t in the squad, but it’s an interesting note given how North End need a striker. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a strange plan in place to use Green there.