Premier League sides to test PNE

David Nugent could be in the Leicester City side which faces Preston
David Nugent could be in the Leicester City side which faces Preston
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Preston North End will play seven pre-season friendlies as part of their build-up to the new campaign.

The bounce games include meetings with Premier League new boys Leicester City and Burnley, as well as the visit of Liverpool to Deepdale.

North End make their annual visits to Chorley and Bamber Bridge, with trips to Morecambe and Halifax also in the summer schedule.

Simon Grayson’s squad report back for pre-season training on July 3.

Their first run-out will be on Tuesday, July 15, against Chorley at Victory Park (7pm) in which they will compete for the Jack Kirkland Trophy.

Garry Flitcroft’s Magpies side were promoted to Conference North last month after winning the NPL Premier Division.

The Lilywhites host Premier League runners-up Liverpool on Saturday, July 19.

That is followed by a busy spell in which they play three games in four days.

On Tuesday, July 22, North End face Bamber Bridge at the newly-named Sir Tom Finney Stadium (7pm).

The following night they cross the Pennines to face Conference side Halifax Town at the Shay, a game that will have a 7.45pm kick-off.

One of the Halifax directors is Bobby Ham, a striker in PNE’s 1970/71 Third Division title-winning side.

PNE then have a Friday night trip to Morecambe, taking on Jim Bentley’s Shrimps side at the Globe Arena on July 25 (7.30pm).

That quick run of games will give Grayson a good opportunity to run the rule over his full squad.

The friendly schedule is rounded off with the games against Burnley and Leicester.

First up is the visit of Sean Dyche’s Clarets on Tuesday, July 29 (7.45pm).

Then they meet the Foxes on Saturday, August 2 (3pm), with the 2014/15 campaign starting the next weekend.

That game could see a Deepdale return for former PNE favourite David Nugent.

The striker scored 37 goals in 107 appearances during a two-and-a-half year stay at North End. He was a £90,000 signing from Bury and was sold to Portsmouth in a £6m deal in July 2007.

Nugent’s 20 league goals last season helped fire Leicester to the Championship title.

But his future in the East Midlands is uncertain.

The 29-year-old is out of contract next month and he has not yet agreed a new deal with the Foxes.

Former PNE loan players Matty James and Ritchie de Laet are also at Leicester but Sean St Ledger has been released.

Paul Gallagher is back on their books for the time being after spending six months on loan with Preston last season.

North End are hoping to strike a new loan deal for Gallagher during the summer.