Alex Neil aims to put finishing touches to his Preston North End squad

Alex Neil hopes that Preston’s winning start to the season can be followed by a fruitful time in the transfer and loan window.

The Lilywhites opened the campaign with a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers, Alan Browne on target with a 50th-minute header.

Alan Browne scored PNE's winner against QPR

Alan Browne scored PNE's winner against QPR

With Sean Maguire having to sit out the first two months of the season with a hamstring injury and Billy Bodin out for six months after tearing his cruciate ligament, the search is on for reinforcements in the forward line.

North End are looking at both permanent and loan deals – the transfer window closes on Thursday afternoon with loans still permitted until August 31.

Lilywhites manager Neil said: “We know we need to strengthen the top end of the pitch because recently we have lost two really important players – we need to give the lads up there a bit of a hand as it will be tough for them to try and see it through until January.

“We need a fuller squad at the top end.”

Louis Moult was Maguire’s replacement against QPR and Neil was pleased with what the former Motherwell man offered.

But Neil felt the service from wide areas for Moult needed to improve.

“I thought Louis linked the game very well but our quality of crosses in for him was poor,” said Neil.

“We didn’t give him the chances to get on the end of anything.

“But in terms of retention, Louis did really well.

“There was a time when he got a little bit cocky and began to lay the ball off first time.

“I told him to take the ball in and lay it off, keep it simple.

“Louis was a handful for their centre-backs, the big lad he was playing against was never given the chance to get a clean header in.

“Louis is a clever player, he is smart and intelligent.

“We’ve got to get better supply in for him and that for him is probably crosses from wide areas – we’ll have to focus on that.”

While numbers up front are thin on the ground, the depth of the other areas of the squad was underlined by Neil’s team selection.

Paul Huntington was left on the bench in preference to Tom Clarke and Ben Davies starting at the back.

Said Neil: “I thought Hunts was fantastic for us last year but I just thought that over the course of pre-season the other lads had a bit of an edge.

“It’s a good squad, I put Josh Harrop in and left out Paul Gallagher and Ryan Ledson.

“I left out Daryl Horgan and put Callum Robinson and Tom Barkhuizen in.”

Clarke will be assessed over the coming days after the skipper got a bang on the head late in the game.