There are now less than 36 hours of the transfer window left to go – but don’t expect Preston to be doing any business.
North End have made the one signing this month, bringing in Scott Sinclair in a big move from Celtic. In terms of outgoings, Josh Earl, Jack Armer, Josh Ginnelly, Kevin O’Connor, Ethan Walker and Adam O’Reilly have all moved out on loan, whilst Chris Maxwell has moved on to Blackpool and Andre Green’s loan has been terminated.
The squad has been trimmed, but fans hoping that there is now room for additions may be left disappointed.
At today’s press conference ahead of facing Swansea City, Neil confirmed that it’s unlikely Preston will make any more moves before the deadline, with Sinclair now likely to be the only January addition.
We’ve voiced our frustrations before about certain gaps in the squad that haven’t been filled since last summer. Andrew Hughes is the only natural left back at the club, and he has endured an injury-hit campaign. We’re clearly short of a striker, but we do understand how difficult it can be to find one in January.
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We’re not about to go over that again, but one line from Neil’s press conference did hit a real source of frustration. Lancs Live’s George Hodgson tweeted from Neil’s press conference, noting that Neil said the domestic market is turning up very few strikers, and any that are available are too expensive.
We’ve covered this before, but Neil essentially admitted that North End are only focused on the domestic market. It feels a little baffling for the club to feel like the domestic market is too expensive, but not look outside of that.
There isn’t a single player in the Preston first-team squad signed from a team outside of England, Scotland or Ireland. It’s coming up to four years since we even signed a player from a foreign club, and that was a loan deal for Palermo’s Simon Makienok, who had already been on loan at Charlton.
Clubs like Bristol City and Brentford are managing to use foreign markets to their advantage, pouncing for talented European players at reasonable prices. Even Barnsley have done this well in recent times, so it really feels like Preston have a blind spot.
The way Neil and Joe Savage recruited from Croatia, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands whilst at Norwich suggests this isn’t really on them; it feels like more of a club direction to focus on players currently in the UK and Ireland.
That’s understandable to a point. Focusing on domestic players who know the English game is smart, but if you’re priced out of signing key players – another left back, a centre forward – in domestic markets, surely the next logical step is to look further afield.
You have to go back to 2011 to find the last instances of Preston making a permanent signing straight from a foreign club, with Keammar Daley and Juvhel Tsoumou arriving from Tivoli Gardens and Alemannia Aachen respectively.
Yes, neither of them particularly worked out, but if you take the attitude of not signing players from certain leagues because of past failures, you would struggle to bring anybody in. Do we stop shopping in League One because Josh Ginnelly hasn’t panned out? No, because shutting off certain domestic markets would severely limit us.
The stance over looking abroad for the signings is doing exactly that though, and as a quiet deadline day approaches without two signings that North End have needed since the summer, Preston’s stance is growing increasingly frustrating – even more so after the manager’s admission.