PNE squad taking shape

Neil Kilkenny
Neil Kilkenny
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Preston North End are just a couple of signings away from completing their summer transfer business.

Yesterday’s announcement that midfielder Neil Kilkenny has signed a new two-year deal at Deepdale means North End are now close to finalising their squad for the forthcoming season.

Following the acquisitions of goalkeeper Jamie Jones, defender Calum Woods and strike duo Jordan Hugill and Andy Little, Kilkenny will bolster the midfield department.

He spent the majority of last season at Deepdale after initially signing on loan from Bristol City, before making the move permanent until the end of the campaign.

A stylish passer of the ball, the 28-year-old Australian featured 37 times for Preston last season and played in the 3-1 play-off semi-final second-leg defeat against Rotherham at the New York Stadium.

He found the back of the net twice and was hoping to force his way into the reckoning for Australia’s World Cup squad.

While Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou picked PNE team-mate Bailey Wright in his final 23 for Brazil, Kilkenny – who has been capped 14 times for his country – was overlooked.

Despite his consistent displays, Kilkenny is perhaps best known for having two red cards rescinded last season.

In a case of mistaken identity, Kilkenny was handed his marching orders at Port Vale for violent conduct instead of the real culprit Joe Garner.

And later in the season, he was shown a straight red at Valley Parade after getting involved in an altercation with Bradford City’s Kyle Bennett. After an appeal by the club, the sending off was reduced to a yellow card.

Manager Simon Grayson said: “I think Neil showed what he is all about when he first came to the club.

“He changed the way that we play. He’s a passing midfielder – he hasn’t wanted to go anywhere else and we’re just delighted that he has signed a longer-term contract.

“He will continue to add to the competition – with the players we have in his position all giving us different qualities.”

With Kilkenny having put pen to paper, North End will now turn their attention to other business.

It is understood they are in advanced talks to bring a winger to the club, while Grayson has made no secret of his desire to re-sign Paul Gallagher, who spent most of the last campaign on loan at Deepdale from Leicester City.

The 29-year-old Scot still has a year left on his current contract at the Kingpower Stadium and it is believed the club is in negotiations over what percentage of his wage they must pay.

Although Grayson has not ruled out making further signings before the start of the season, he is keen to have the vast majority of his squad in place in time for the start of pre-season.

It is also likely that North End will allow some players who are likely to be on the periphery of the squad next season to leave, if acceptable offers are received.