Dave Seddon’s PNE press view

Kyel Reid in action at Southport
Kyel Reid in action at Southport
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This weekend marks, for most English clubs, the end of the pre-season friendly programme.

Inaccurate team-sheets, wrong shirt numbers, trips to far flung grounds and never-ending lists of trialists can be packed away until next year.

The humble summer friendly has, over the years, grown in stature.

Once upon a time, you were lucky to find even a mention of them in the media, let alone a decent-sized report.

As a nipper, my memory of pre-season was Preston playing in the Anglo Scottish Cup.

Three years running in the late 70s and early 80s, North End took part in a competition which pitted clubs from both sides of the border against one another.

I recall Morton playing at Deepdale and I’m sure my first ever away trip was to Burnley in the same tournament.

Over the years, pre-season schedules have changed in structure.

And now friendlies come in all shapes and sizes.

It can be Ashington away or Paris St Germain in Chicago.

Some friendlies are big business, the majority of Premier League clubs now heading overseas for lucrative tour games.

They are televised, tweeted about and analysed in a way never done before.

A three-quarter-paced kickabout is dissected in detail, competitions given the star build-up and treatment.

Is the Emirates Trophy or the International Champions Cup ever going to take pride of place in the trophy cabinet?

And can any club, hand on heart, say that flying to the other side of the world is the best preparation for a 10-month season?

At the other end of the scale, events at two pre-season games have bordered on the bizarre these last few days.

Southend sent an Under-21s side to Chelmsford and did not hand over their team sheet until after the action had kicked off.

Morecambe’s bounce game with Blackpool was played behind closed doors.

The Seasiders insisted on no media being present despite them being the away team and surely having no say on such restrictions.

With the blackout in place, Blackpool then reported it kick by kick on social media!

If there is something to be enjoyed in pre-season, it is the trips to grounds you might not normally visit.

Livingston FC’s Almondvale Stadium is not a venue I had ever envisaged spending a Friday night at.

But there I was a week last Friday, following North End’s progress against Motherwell.

My abiding memory of that game was the swarm of midges which descended on the area near the dugouts afterwards.

Both managers attempted to conduct press duties while having to brush off the pesky little insects.

If anyone thought Simon Grayson’s video interview on the PNE website was a tad shorter than normal, then they would be correct.

It was cut short as the midges dive-bombed North End’s manager.

What can we learn from the friendlies played over the last three weeks?

Not a great deal I would wager, as you can never replicate the intensity of a league game in this warm-up period.

Fitness is the main thing and you can certainly see the levels getting better on a game-by-game basis.

If I was to home in on a few positives, they would be the displays of Jordan Hugill, Kyel Reid and Will Keane.

Hugill has looked a handful up front in the starts he’s had, with Reid looking more like the player he was before tearing his cruciate ligament.

Keane, he has that ability to effortlessly find space and give himself time on the ball.

Whether Championship defences will afford him that luxury come next Sunday, we will wait and see.

Paul Huntington showed what an important figure he has become in the Lilywhites defence simply by not playing at Carlisle on Tuesday night.

Without him, the back line did not have the best of evenings in Cumbria.

The acid test of North End’s progress starts with the visit of Middlesbrough here.

It is a tough welcome back to the Championship but not mission impossible.

There will be no Tendayi Darikwa in a Preston shirt that day, nor for the season, after a summer-long chase for the right-back ended with him joining Burnley on Thursday.

Disappointing? Yes. The end of the world? No.

Some you get, some you don’t. PNE had their reasons for pulling out of the deal late on and giving Burnley the free run on him. Time to move on and cast the net again.