Simopn Grayson says his PNE recruitment planning for a transfer window is a long-term process and often involves players who have been on the radar for a number of months.
His interest in some of the recent arrivals at Preston can be traced back at least a couple of windows.
Ben Pearson was a target as long ago as November 2014, the Lilywhites enquiring about taking him on loan from Manchester United.
North End boss Grayson finally landed him last week in a permanent deal.
Liam Grimshaw’s progress was tracked before and during his loan at Motherwell.
Eoin Doyle and Stevie May, who signed on the final day of the summer window, had both been targets before. North End tried for Doyle last January, before he joined Cardiff from Chesterfield.
Attempts were made to sign May in January 2014 and again in the summer of that year.
Grayson’s interest in Daniel Johnson had also gone back to well before his arrival this time last year. Sam Johnstone’s current loan is his second at Deepdale, while Callum Robinson joined for a third stint recently.
Grayson told the Evening Post: “Our process of bringing players in during this window and the summer one, can go back six, 12 or 18 months.
“We keep a close eye on players who we are interested in and who we think can help us develop as a team.
“Things change with regards to players’ availability.
“A player who you didn’t think was available or you were told wasn’t available, can come on the market suddenly. When you look back, we have strengthened at the right times.
“In last January’s window, we brought in Daniel Johnson for £50,000 from Aston Villa and Sam Johnstone on loan.
“Sometimes with a player, you have to be patient and track them for quite a while.
“You watch them develop and then the chance can come for you to sign them. By that time you have done your homework on them and know how they can fit in.”
North End have made four signings so far this month, Pearson and Grimshaw joining full-time, with Johnstone and Robinson coming on loan.
In addition, the loan of Adam Reach was extended until the end of the season.
Going the other way, Kyel Reid agreed to stay on loan at Bradford until the end of the campaign after initially joining them in October.
Striker Andy Little had his loan with Blackpool extended to January 30 but a hamstring injury means he is unlikely to play for the remainder.
Ben Davies is on a youth loan at Newport County until February 13 and played in their FA Cup defeat against Blackburn on Monday night.
Last week, Josh Brownhill joined Barnsley on an initial month’s loan.
The transfer window shuts on Monday, February 1 at 11pm, with the Football League’s emergency loan window open for business the following week.
As things stand, this will be the last emergency loan window – UEFA has long frowned on the system which allows Football League clubs to sign players outside of the two transfer windows.