Dave Seddon's PNE pressview
Just three days after the final whistle had been blown on Preston North End's season at Wolves, the first transfer speculation rumblings of the summer were felt.
It actually involved Wolves, reports surfacing of a £2m bid being received off them for Jordan Hugill.
Talking to trusted PNE sources, it has more been a case of the Molineux outfit making an enquiry rather than talking specific figures.
‘Expressing an interest’ was how it was described to me.
So for the second window running, it looks like Hugill could be at the centre of the speculation circle.
Ipswich were prepared to go as high as £2m four months ago only to be told they were wasting their time.
Now Wolves seem to have a similar figure in mind going into the summer.
That is not bad for a lad picked up from Port Vale for £25,000 youth compensation three years ago.
Hugill does tend to divide opinion among some of the North End supporters.
We had the ‘I’ll drive him there myself’ comments in January when Ipswich came calling.
Similar has been heard this week when the Wolves link emerged.
Others fall firmly into the ‘hands-off’ category until such a time the size of the bid was simply too good to turn down – every player has their price, whatever the level.
I’ll nail my colours to the mast and include myself in that way of thinking.
Why take £2m for a 13-goal striker? The going rate is surely a lot higher.
If North End wanted a ready-made replacement who could guarantee a better return than Hugill, the cost of that striker would likely to be well in excess of £2m.
The alternative would be to go shopping lower down for a rough diamond and polish them up – that can take time and the aim seems to be to kick-on in 2017/18.
A sensible course from where I’m looking is to find a goalscorer to play WITH Hugill.
When you consider what Hugill offers with work rate, how he holds the ball up and indeed a decent scoring rate, a natural scorer could well thrive next to him.
There would still be room for another new face up front, maybe going down the ‘potential’ route.
Together with Stevie May, Tom Barkhuizen and Callum Robinson, you’d have some decent alternatives.
Hugill has shortcomings, as do most players but there is enough there to work with.
The fact Championship clubs have bid or are ready to bid, must show he is doing something right.
I recall Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce remarking what an awkward customer Hugill had been for Villa’s defence in January – the day he found the net twice.
North End’s business this summer needs to be adding to that core of players who were at the heart of that good September-early April chunk of the season.
There will be casualties, indeed Jermaine Beckford, Anders Lindegaard and Simon Makienok have already gone and there could yet be further departures.
But rarely would your top scorer be a casualty.
As for the released trio of Beckford, Lindegaard and Makienok, their appearance on the retained list was not a surprise.
The writing had been on the wall for Beckford since December’s two red cards.
You would say the same thing for keeper Lindegaard, by reason of him not having kicked or caught a ball since the last week of October.
Makienok’s goal return probably ruled out seeking to keep him longer – six for the season, three of those in the same game.
I’m not actually sure if we quite saw enough of the Great Dane to fully assess his game.
In flashes we saw what he could offer, although you had to travel to see that – all his six goals came away from Deepdale.
It was easy to label him as the big man up front, there to win headers and flick the ball on.
But maybe there was a bit more to his game?
Makienok has gone, a dig at Simon Grayson made in his farewell Instagram post.
In his words, the gaffer had not shown him ‘alotta luv’ – which translates to not enough football.
As the players head for the beach and we prepare ourselves for a few weeks of transfer chat, can I take this opportunity to look back at a few things from the season from a reporter’s point of view.
In the Championship, us hacks are fortunate enough to get fed at most grounds.
For me, it was a toss-up between Newcastle and Villa for the best food in the press room – canjun-spiced lamb at St James’ Park and roast beef at Villa Park, followed by mini-scones for pudding.
Facilities wise, Brighton’s Amex Stadium was the best to work at.
Toughest journey of the campaign was Norwich in October, with a lorry fire on the M6 and tailbacks on the A14 to contend with.
Silver and bronze went to the return journeys from Cardiff and Birmingham.
Tuesday night away games wouldn’t be the same without motorways closures and being diverted through the mean streets of Newport and Walsall!