Trio in line for PNE debuts

Alex Baptiste was one of three deadline-day signings (photo courtesy of PNE)
Alex Baptiste was one of three deadline-day signings (photo courtesy of PNE)
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Preston’s trio of transfer deadline-day signings will get their first opportunity to make a claim for a place in the side when Barnsley visit Deepdale on Saturday.

Alex Baptiste and Marnick Vermijl have spent the past few days training with PNE after finalising moves last Wednesday.

They will be joined at Springfields by Aiden McGeady on Thursday morning, the winger having completed his loan switch from Everton while away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

North End skipper Tom Clarke has enjoyed working with Baptiste and Vermijl in training – Vermijl a familiar face after spending last season here on loan.

“It is good to get some new faces in,” Clarke told the Evening Post.

“Marnick has been here before and we were pleased to see him come back. He will give us pace down the right-hand side and being here on loan before means it won’t take him long to settle in.

“Alex Baptiste is a really good player with plenty of experience.

“I’ve played against him a few times and he always impressed me in those games.

“We will get to meet Aiden McGeady when he comes back from international duty.

“Aiden is an exciting player with a good pedigree.

“He has the ability to make something out of nothing, which is what we need in the final third of the pitch.

“As a team, we know we need to be a bit more creative and Aiden can help us do that.

“He can play anywhere across the front and is a good signing for us.”

McGeady is an option for either wing or can play off the main striker.

After being frozen out by Everton during pre-season, having spent the second-half of last term on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, this move gives the 30-year-old a fresh start.

There is no argument that North End need to score more goals and add creativity to their game.

McGeady’s arrival has the potential to provide them with a bit more edge in and around the opposition box.

At the back, Vermijl is the natural replacement for long-term casualty Calum Woods.

The pair competed for the right-back and right wing-back berths last season.

Baptiste’s arrival provides Simon Grayson with another body at centre-half, while he can also operate as a right-back.

In recent seasons, Clarke, Paul Huntington and Bailey Wright have been mainstays in the centre-back slots.

Woods and Cunningham were used centrally when needed, with Tommy Spurr now also an option.

Baptiste should provide the back line with a bit more pace and his arrival certainly increases the competition for places.

Like McGeady, this is a fresh start for 30-year-old Baptiste.

He suffered a broken leg on his Middlesbrough debut 14 months ago, his time on the pitch last season limited to a two-month loan spell at Sheffield United as he looked to regain fitness.

Now Baptiste has got the chance to work with a manager he knows well – Grayson signed him for Blackpool – and recapture the form which earned him the move to Middlesbrough last summer.