Preston North End have dipped into the League of Ireland market once more with the signing of Graham Burke.
ALSO READ: Graham Burke in and Greg Cunningham out as dealing continues at Preston North End
The Republic of Ireland international joins Sean Maguire, Kevin O’Connor and Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan in making the move to Deepdale in the last couple of seasons.
But what will the Shamrock Rovers man bring to Alex Neil’s squad?
Forward arrives on a hot streak - just like Sean Maguire
For the second summer running PNE have moved to swoop for the League of Ireland’s form front man. Some 12 month ago it was Sean Maguire and that certainly turned out well, 10 goals following despite four months on the sidelines. Now it is a man who has got 12 goals so far this term across the water including four in one game against Derry City in March. In one sense, he’s gone one better than Maguire prior to his Deepdale arrival having been capped by and scored for the Republic of Ireland. It may have been a tap in against the USA but they all count.
Burke’s no stranger to English football
The Dubliner may have risen to prominence over the last 18 months in the League of Ireland but he first tried to make his way in the game in England. Arriving at Aston Villa as a teenager, he made two senior appearances for the Birmingham club, both off the bench in the League Cup in the 2012-13 season. Loan spells at Shrewsbury and Notts County followed before he joined the Magpies permanently in the summer of 2015. Returned back home though after 18 months and just four goals at Meadow Lane where he certainly found a home and his form in front of goal.
Forward will have friends in the PNE dressing room
His Aston Villa background means Burke played alongside both Callum Robinson and Daniel Johnson as a youngster. In 2013 Burke and Robinson were part of the young claret and blue side that won the prestigious NextGen Series with victory over Chelsea, the PNE new boy ending the competition as the joint top scorer. Ireland duty means in the past few weeks he’s also shared a dressing room with Sean Maguire, Alan Browne and Daryl Horgan.
He fits Alex Neil’s thinking going forwards
Burke may be amongst the goals for club and country but he arrives at Deepdale as someone who can play in a number of positions. While he can lead the line as his numbers suggest the 24-year-old can play across the frontline. In some respects, he is seen more as a forward who can play as a No.10 or in wide areas. Since Jordan Hugill’s big-money move to West Ham, Neil has moved towards a fluid frontline and Burke would seem to fit the bill.
Continues recent buying pattern
Burke becomes signing number five from the League of Ireland in recent seasons, six if you include Alan Browne being plucked from Cork City. There have been mixed results and PNE will hoping their new man makes a similar statement to Sean Maguire. As with most of the their recruits whether it be from Ireland or not, North End are again buying potential. Burke certainly has the talent, it’s just whether it translates to the Championship.