Ex-Preston duo Connor Wickham and Josh Murphy are both fighting for Championship contracts having joined Reading on trial.

Many of us have played Football Manager for hours on end and know the temptation of taking rafts of players on trial.

Preston themselves have look at two trialists this summer with Robbie Brady and Ben Woodburn coming in for training before signing permanent deals.

The Football Manager approach has really been embraced at Reading though, who are hitting that ‘offer trial’ button like it’s going out of fashion.


Paul Ince’s men have taken a staggering eight players on trial as they look to rebuild their squad this summer.

This is largely because Reading aren’t allowed to pay transfer fees for any incoming signings due to an EFL-sanctioned transfer embargo.

Ince is now having to look at free agents and he needs plenty of them after losing the likes of Andy Rinomhota, Josh Laurent and John Swift.

Reading took on Benfica in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, losing 2-0 as Ince casts his eye of the huge number of trialists.

Eight trialists featured with Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Julian Jeanvier, Sam Hutchinson, Grant Ward, Jacob Davenport and Jodi Jones all featuring, as named by Berkshire Live.

There were two former Preston players on show too though as winger Josh Murphy and striker Connor Wickham were both in action.

Wickham joined Preston on a free transfer back in September 2021 having been released by Crystal Palace.

That seemed like a gamble based on his injury record and, sure enough, Wickham picked up an injury inside five minutes of his first start against Cheltenham Town – and never played for Preston again.

North End released Wickham in January as his short-term deal ended and he spent the second half of the season with Milton Keynes Dons.

Preston North End v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Mick Walker – CameraSport via Getty Images

Now bidding for a Championship return, Wickham is looking to prove himself to Ince – both in terms of his quality and his durability.

Winger Murphy also signed for Preston last summer, arriving on loan from Cardiff City.

A proven Championship player, Murphy looked like being an encouraging signing but it just didn’t work out for him.

The 27-year-old failed to start a single game for Preston and had his loan scrapped early having failed to impress Ryan Lowe.

Cardiff released Murphy this summer and whilst Huddersfield were linked, it’s now Reading who are looking at the former Norwich City man.

Murphy and Wickham will go down as two of the more forgettable Preston signings in recent times but could end up facing North End next season.

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