Boss Alex Neil says freshening up of Preston North End squad is what’s needed

Alex Neil has described Preston North End being in a ‘transitional period’ as he helps give the squad a different look this month.

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites manager got loan deals for Ched Evans and Jayson Molumby over the line early doors in the transfer window and there will be further incomings.

How many more will hinge a great deal on which of the players nearing the end of their contracts PNE manage to keep hold of.

Evans’ loan move from Fleetwood Town for the rest of the season was completed yesterday morning.

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Ched Evans has signed for Preston on loan from Fleetwood for the rest of the season (Getty Images)

North End’s swoop for him was always going to be shrouded in controversy because of past events in the 32-year-old striker’s life.

They’ve been prepared to bite the bullet as far as that is concerned but the announcement of Evans’ arrival did provoke a strong reaction among fans on social media and how he does at Deepdale will be subject to a huge amount of scrutiny.

Molumby’s signing from Brighton on loan, done late on Tuesday night, in contrast got the warmest of welcomes.

Neil is reluctant to say exactly how far his recruitment will go, with there scope for that to change as the window goes on.

“We need to do business, we know that,” Neil told the Lancashire Post.

“I have been saying for a lot of the season that this will be a bit of a transitional phase for us.

“That was always going to come with the lads not having yet extended their deals.

“It leaves me with no alternative other than to try and bring bodies in, otherwise come the end of the window we could find ourselves in a really difficult position.”

Neil is hopeful that some of the big four – Daniel Johnson, Alan Browne, Ben Pearson and Ben Davies – in the latter stages of their contracts will still be at Deepdale after this window to link up with the new faces.

Asked if he was optimistic, or indeed not, Neil said: “It is a changing landscape, at the moment it is 50/50.

“What I want to make crystal clear is that they are good lads who train hard every day and I’ve no issues with them.

“The fact they haven’t signed the new deals doesn’t make them bad people or suggest they are against us.

“As a club we have to think mid and long-term and if we put all our eggs in one basket and assume they will sign and then they don’t, we will be caught short.

“I’ve told them that I need to actively look for lads to come here and keep the squad as strong as possible.

“They are fine with that, we understand each other. We’re still hopeful we will get some of them signed, if not all.”