It feels like we write this every other day at this point, but Preston’s focus in the transfer market has to be on signing a new striker.

Peter Ridsdale has suggested as much himself; that North End are looking for a new hitman to lead Alex Neil’s attack this coming season.

Seani Maguire, Jayden Stockley, David Nugent and Louis Moult managed just 11 goals between them last season, so this pursuit is imperative.

One name linked in August was Aston Villa’s Keinan Davis, with Alan Nixon reporting in The Sun (16/08, p59) that North End think they can land the 22-year-old.

Brentford v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – JULY 15: Brentford’s Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring his side’s first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Preston North End at Griffin Park on July 15, 2020 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Andy Kearns/CameraSport via Getty Images)

That was dependent on Villa finding a new striker, as they would then be willing to loan Davis out for first-team football.

It now seems that Villa have found their striker, with BBC Sport reporting that they have agreed a £33million deal for Brentford hitman Ollie Watkins.

Watkins will now head to Villa Park to join Wesley and Mbwana Samatta in the Villa striking ranks, meaning Davis will now drop down the pecking order despite ending last season with a run in the first team.

If the initial report is to be believed, then Watkins’ move to Villa Park means that Davis will be available for Preston to sign in the near future.

Aston Villa v Sheffield United - Premier League
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – JUNE 17: Keinan Davis of Aston Villa reacts during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images)

6ft 3in Davis is big, physical, mobile and hard-working, and appears to have the athletic profile that Neil would want as the spearhead of his attack, more resembling Jordan Hugill than anyone who has been up top for Preston since Hugill’s exit.

The problem is that Davis doesn’t have a particularly impressive goal record. He has managed just two goals in 55 league games for Villa, and four in 65 games across all competitions.

That will concern Preston fans, who are looking for a real goalscorer to arrive at Deepdale rather than a young loanee who has so far struggled to find the net.

Davis ticks the boxes in many other ways, and he is a name to keep a close eye on if Villa do finalise that move for Watkins.

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