Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

You can't knock the start which Preston North End have made to this season.

Sunday, 20th August 2017, 7:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:28 pm
Ben Pearson gets a shot away in Preston's victory over Reading

Two wins, a draw and a defeat, with just the one goal conceded from the penalty spot.

It was a difficult start which the fixture computer came up with, but North End have risen well to the test.

Saturday’s win against Reading was a pleasing one and probably should have been by a bigger margin.

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Jordan Hugill delivered the goods with the winner and no doubt put a bit extra on to his value.

The lad is continuing to do very well and I just hope that North End can ward off any interest in him between now and the deadline.

If someone does come calling, the asking price needs to be high – after all the market value has gone through the roof lately.

We have seen strikers move from Championship club to Championship club for £12m, even more.

At the other end of the pitch, the clean sheet against Reading will have pleased Alex Neil.

That is three clean sheets in four games and shows that the back line is well drilled.

If they can keep going with that solidity and score a few more at the other end, North End are going to get plenty of points on the board.

Looking at the team for the Reading game, it was quite a youthful one and young lads can play without any fear.

There will be time for an older head or two to come in though, a bit of experience can count for a lot if you hit a bit of a sticky patch.

But at the moment, these younger lads are doing fine and long may that continue.

It is Middlesbrough next for North End – my part of the world when growing up.

That will be another tough game but I’m sure Neil will go there with a game plan and be confident of 
getting something.

Boro lost on Saturday at Nottingham Forest but they will be stronger at home.

They are a side who have spent money this summer, paying a huge £15m for Britt Assombalonga.

These big fees are starting to get commonplace in the Championship – Derby spent £6m or so on Tom Lawrence a few days back.

North End are going about it a bit differently to some of the others at this level, with them exploring the Irish market and also the lower divisions.

Talking about football in general, you’ve got to ask the question about whether the current transfer market is sustainable?

The Neymar transfer from Barcelona to Paris St Germain was bordering on the obscene – basically it was the state of Qatar buying the player.

Will money keep getting pumped into football at the rate it is now?

It could be that it takes a big high-profile club to hit financial difficulties – if their backer pulled out – to bring things into focus.

At some stage, I’m sure that football is going to hit a ceiling in terms of transfer fees.

For now though, the fees are going to rise and rise.