It just wouldn’t be a transfer window without Preston being linked with Irish players, would it?

Earlier this month, The Irish Sun claimed North End want UCD winger Neil Farrugia. Now, another name has been touted with a move to Deepdale.

Defender Sean McLoughlin has been impressing for Cork City, and that seems to have caught North End’s eye. The Irish Independent claim that Preston are now a frontrunner to snap up the centre back.

It’s stated that North End made enquiries in January, but backed away over a €250,000 (£220,000) fee. McLoughlin’s contract is running down though, and Preston may be back in with a bargain offer.

Sean McLoughlin of Cork City in action against Shamrock Rovers. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Portsmouth are understood to be keen too, but Preston’s links with Cork City may just help win the race. Add in that Cork are struggling financially, and North End may just be in a great position to secure a move.

McLoughlin, 22, is one of Irish football’s most promising talents, with Everton, Liverpool and Newcastle linked by TEAMtalk last summer. Standing at 6ft 3in tall, McLoughlin had good size for a centre back, whilst being left footed may make him cover for Ben Davies.

We flagged up McLoughlin in March, feeling that a left-footed centre back is needed behind Davies. McLoughlin, cheap and full of potential, fits the bill well for Alex Neil.

Of course, fans will be sceptical. Outside of Alan Browne and Seani Maguire, North End’s venture into the Irish market hasn’t gone to plan. Kevin O’Connor, Andy Boyle, Daryl Horgan and Graham Burke have all come in, but all will have likely gone by next season.

North End will hope that McLoughlin is more Browne than Burke, and the cheap price may well be worth taking a risk.

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