Dave Seddon's PNE Press View

As transfer windows go, the first two weeks of the current one have seen a buzz of activity at Deepdale.

Friday, 13th January 2017, 6:00 pm
Jordan Hugill scores for North End at Rotherham

No gentle half-volleys to warm up before things get busier as January 31 nears.

Three incoming deals were registered on New Year’s Day, those of Andy Boyle, Daryl Horgan and Tom Barkhuizen.

At the end of last week, Bailey Wright’s switch to Bristol City went through.

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Then in the last few days we have had Ipswich Town fluttering their eyelashes in Jordan Hugill’s direction.

In a little more than two weeks, it will all be over and conversation turns back to tactics and hamstring strains.

I thought Wright leaving had divided opinion among North End supporters.

But the debate stirred by Ipswich being in the hunt for Hugill offered up plenty of debate on social media, with some contrasting views.

It seemed to be a 50/50 spilt between favouring a sale and keeping him.

Both arguments carry some sway and it is hard to predict which way this one will go.

I was surprised at how much support there was for snatching Ipswich’s hand off.

That is a bit hasty in my book – how many times in life do you accept a first bid for anything, be it selling your house or car?

Ipswich clearly like what Hugill offers, they will have scouted him closely.

After all, he is not the type of player who automatically springs to mind when it comes to teams bolstering their forward line.

So if Ipswich are of that mind, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they will return with another offer.

As things stand, I would keep hold of the lad, while acknowledging that a much improved bid might be too good to turn down.

Hugill has improved in the last 12 months.

There were signs in the second half of last season when he started chipping in with some big goals – Bolton and Blackburn away, the late equaliser against Leeds on the final day.

Some of the rough edges have been smoothed off, but there is more sanding to be done.

At one stage earlier this season, he was averaging a game every two games.

Hugill has six goals to his name with the season just into its second half.

It is worth noting that is as many as Joe Garner netted in the whole of last term.

True, the goals have dried up since he scored early in November at Rotherham.

But strikers do hit barren patches and it didn’t seem to be weighing on his mind too much in the Arsenal game last week.

Simon Grayson wants to carry on working with Hugill, judging by the warm plaudits he gave the front man in Thursday’s press 

He has enjoyed coaxing the best out of players in the last few years at PNE and sees the potential in Hugill to take him forward.

Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy is clearly of the same view – McCarthy and Grayson have been around the block and know what works at this level.

You might argue that the interest in Hugill highlights a shortage of strikers in the middle bracket of the market for Championship clubs.

At the top end of the scale, you are looking at big fees and wages for people to put the ball in the net.

David Nugent, a player many Preston fans would have had back at Deepdale in a shot, moved to Derby from Middlesbrough this week for £2.5m, plus a wage which former Premier League front-men can demand.

At the other end of the scale, you can go for the rough diamond from lower down, strikers banging in the goals in Leagues One and Two.

But in between, there are not too many knocking around.

Stepping up from the lower leagues and scoring in the Championship does have its challenges.

Look at Eoin Doyle, who banged in the goals in League One for Chesterfield but has subsequently struggled for Cardiff and PNE.

So perhaps with his six goals to date this season, five of them in the league, Hugill is making a decent fist of it.

We will have to see how things play out in the next couple of weeks with this one but I think Preston made the right decision in batting away this initial offer.

Away from Deepdale and on to the international front, I could only shake my head this week at FIFAeffectively giving the green light to a 48-country World Cup in 2026.

What should be an elite competition where the best players get the stage to play is steadily getting watered down.

This is not a primary school sportsday, fun for all witheveryone getting a prize.

It is the World Cup where countries battle through qualifying groups for the right to play on football’s grandest stage.

Big is not always best, just look at Euro 2016 and indeed the Champions League.

Briefly, there were some good moments in the group stages of the expanded Euros but it was mainly a bit of a plod.

In the Champions League, the group stage is basically a waste of time – it is just a jockeying for positions between the two best-ranked clubs in each group.