Fast Eddie

Speedy Eddie Lewis will be fast-tracked into the Preston side after winning his work permit appeal in Sheffield yesterday.

The USA World Cup star has been told he goes straight into action against Scunthorpe in the Worthington Cup next week.

And Craig Brown's fourth signing knows an impressive debut could earn him regular first team football for the first time in almost two years.

North End officials admitted today they were "delighted" to finally clinch the Lewis deal after weeks of uncertainty.

"Maybe now we can move on," said chairman Derek Shaw. "It's good to get everything sorted out at long last."

And "moving on" could now mean boss Brown upping his efforts to bring in new face number five.

The manager has made no secret of the fact that he is keen to add another striker to his squad to increase competition for Ricardo Fuller, Richard Cresswell and David Healy.

And, with the Nationwide League transfer market still in operation despite a four-month freeze in the Premiership and across Europe, Brown is actively searching for a frontman to complete his squad.

"It is common knowledge Craig is still looking for another striker – football managers never stop looking for players," said chairman Shaw today.

"Pawel Abbott has done very well on loan at Bury. But we are two divisions higher than Bury and Pav is only a young lad.

"I think Craig sees centre-forward as a position he would like to have more competition for. There is nothing imminent, but I'm sure when the manager identifies a player he would like he will come to the board to discuss it."

Since taking charge at Deepdale Brown has signed Fuller, Marlon Broomes, Lewis and Tyrone Mears.

While a tribunal set Mears' price tag from Manchester City at 175,000, Broomes was a free transfer and both Fuller and Lewis have arrived for "undisclosed" fees.

Fuller has been an instant hit with fans. But most supporters have yet to clap eyes on both Broomes and Mears. Broomes has played only one game – the 1-1 draw at Gillingham – through injury. And Mears remains an unknown quantity after a 10-week battle to overcome a thigh problem he suffered in pre-season training.

So Lewis could leap ahead of both players at Deepdale when he makes his debut against Scunthorpe on Wednesday.

"Eddie will play in the Worthington Cup tie," said boss Brown after returning from the appeal hearing in Sheffield. "We will get him into action as soon as possible.

"We are delighted that the tribunal accepted our submission and granted Eddie a work permit.

"I think we put forward a superb written submission, which was put together by Eddie Harrison and Janet Parr in the secretarial department."

Although Lewis qualified for a work permit at Fulham – that was not due to run out until March – he had to make a fresh application when he changed employers.

Even though he has been resident in the UK since March 2000, he still had to prove that he had played 75 per cent of all USA internationals he had been available for over the past two years.

"Because of injury and, amazingly, suspension, Eddie has only played in 66 per cent of the USA's games during that period," explained Brown.

"So our appeal had to show that had he been fit and not suspended he would have played more for the USA.

"We had references from the USA doctor and from the USA national coach. Also we had evidence from John Collins at Fulham.

"So our written presentation was first class and the panel commented favourably on the quality of it.

"But Chris Waddle and David Fairclough were both on the panel – two former players I know. And so too was Mick McGuire from the PFA.

"These guys were all favourably disposed when I was extolling the virtues of Eddie Lewis.

"He is a player who has played in the World Cup quarter-finals and the USA are 10th in the world rankings.

"So we are talking about a top ranking players here who will enhance our squad.

"The young players at the club will see him in action on the training ground and in games and they will learn from him.

"I think we have made a very good signing for Preston North End."

Lewis has been brought in to provide the ammunition for the club's strikers – he has pace and can deliver a telling cross.

North End have not had a naturally left-sided wide player since David Eyres went to Oldham in October 2000.

And the American can play either as an orthodox left-winger or, as he showed in the World Cup, as a wing-back.

Preston were waiting today for news of Tyrone Mears after the young full-back saw a specialist yesterday about his troublesome thigh injury.

The player had been expected to finally make his debut for the reserves last night after a 10-week battle to get fit.

But, as revealed in the Evening Post last night, yet another setback forced North End to send him for further checks.

Dejected Mears is hoping an injection will help clear the injury up and he can get down to playing football.

Last night's reserve fixture at Deepdale was called off an hour before the scheduled start when the coach carrying the Wolves players up the M6 broke down.

Traffic chaos on the motorway due to a serious accident had earlier forced North End to put back the kick-off from 7pm to 7.45pm.

Ironically the postponement came just 24 hours after Sunday's First Division game between the two clubs was called off due to international call-ups.

The game has now been re-arranged for Tuesday, September 24 (7.45pm).