Preston finally got their man on Thursday when they made Oxford midfielder Ryan Ledson their first signing of the summer.
A former Everton youngster and England youth international, the 20-year-old has come in to offer competition in the middle of the park at Deepdale.
Below are five things PNE fans need to know about the new arrival.
He’s a long-term target
The hunt for Ledson has been a long one for PNE. North End made a major play for him in January only to be rebuffed on several occasions by Oxford. Alex Neil and Peter Ridsdale even went as far as to watch him in action at Charlton in a Checkatrade Trophy game on a Tuesday night. They were made to wait but have moved quickly at the end of the season to get their man and get their summer recruitment up and running.
Ledson was a key figure for Oxford
The 20-year-old cleaned up at United’s player of the year awards winning a hat-trick of gongs - rather like new team mate Alan Browne. Ledson was named supporters’ player of the year, young player of the year and picked up the goal of the season prize for his late winner at Charlton back in February. In total made 50 appearances for The U’s last season, scoring three goals, having played 30 times in his first year with the club.
Midfielder is well schooled
Ledson came through the ranks at Everton, joining the club at the age of five before signing his first professional contract at 17. At the end of the 2013-14 season he twice appeared on the bench as a 16-year-old in the Premier League before making his senior debut the following December. He played the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 home defeat to FK Krasnodar in the Europa League. After a loan spell at Cambridge, Ledson made the decision to go in search of first-team football in the summer of 2016.
International experience aplenty
The rising star has played for England from Under 16 to Under 20 level. Having risen through the age groups internationally, he would have likely been a World Cup winner but for injury. Ledson was slated to be part of the Under 20 squad that went on to triumph in South Korea in 2017, but a knee injury ended a campaign that saw him nominated for the EFL young player of the year award early.
Will bring competition in the middle of the park
Ledson can do a bit of everything. Neil spoke in the very early part of his time in charge of PNE about how he doesn’t really have someone who can play the ‘Ben Pearson’ role. The new man is no stranger to a tackle having picked up 13 yellow cards last season and can certainly do the holding midfield job. He has no problem playing further forward though and looks a real all-rounder. His arrival comes on the back of John Welsh’s departure with Paul Gallagher’s future also up in the air.